Uncovering Bias

I came across an article the other day that I have been thinking about ever since.

Here is the start of the article.

The woman in question became a lawyer after some years as a community organizer, married a corporate lawyer and is the mother of two little girls, ages 9 and 6. Herself the daughter of a white American mother and a black African father – here in the United States, a race-conscious country, she is considered black – she served as a state legislator for eight years, and became an inspirational voice for national unity.

Be honest: Do you think this is the biography of someone who could be elected to the U.S. Senate? After less than one term there, do you believe she could be a viable candidate to head the most powerful nation on earth?

I read this and thought "You have got to be kidding me. There is no way that this person is ready to be president." Change the first paragraph to MAN. Behold Barack Obama who I would consider voting for. He is definitely a credible candidate in my mind.

As a woman, I am ashamed that my response to this article was what it was. Bias and discrimination can be so subtle, so insidious. What does it matter that the fictional candidate described is a woman? As a woman, how could I hold it against her and think that the male equivalent of her is ready while she is not? I have personally been granted wonderful opportunities in my life, likely both in spite of or because of being female. And yet, as a woman I have worried about facing bias, not being a source of it.

Gloria Steinem, the author of the above article (it’s worth reading the entire thing), has been a champion of women’s rights for decades. I was born after she’d discarded her playboy bunny ears, but not by much. I am grateful that she is still there writing to remind me of the subtle biases in our society and in me. 

3 comments on “Uncovering Bias
  1. Kyra says:

    That’s interesting. Honestly, I didn’t think of it one way or another whether she was ready to be president… I had more of a “I don’t know” reaction. Though I sincerely agree that there is a difference in viewing a woman in that circumstance verses a man. I think, perhaps, that for me it resides in being a mother with young children – that she is then automatically divided because children should always come first. For men, in my obviously tainted viewpoint, it seems that children come in at an easy second for most. For a president, it’s likely a child would come in 301st – regardless of gender, and perhaps that is what bothers me the most. But then, we always superimpose our own situation with the plight of another.

  2. Cathy says:

    I think for me too it was the mother thing. I’m not one but I have an employee with two small kids whose husband travels often for weeks at a time. I do not know how she manages. Certainly we’ve had presidents before with small children. But I read this and thought the combination of relative youth, small kids, relative inexperience and female gender (i.e. momma) made it a “no way” for me. I am somewhat ashamed by this but thus it is.
    This year I just don’t know what to hope for. In 2000 I so very much wanted the Powell/McCain ticket…(yes I know that was not one of the choices). This year?! Yikes. I have no idea. I’m a registered independent and there is no one that is a great fit for me. Is there anyone out there who is fairly socially liberal/libertarian but fiscally resposible with a chance of winning to pick from?

  3. Kyra says:

    Right now, I think I’d just settle for getting someone elected who’s fairly liberal! I’ve seen too much hate cloaked in “conservativeness” that I am just done with it all. Oh, who am I kidding, the national debt makes my stomach almost as upset as my own household budget. *sigh* I don’t think I have ever been as stressed out about an election as this one (though the last was the worst I had experienced before this.)