When we think about it, it’s hard to imagine an image of a person we know excluding their gender. Gender plays a large role in perception, even of a person’s personality. Even some personality traits are considered either masculine or feminine. If you were to meet a woman who was dominant and aggressive mixed with loud an forceful, she may be considered an anomaly to her gender. It may even be harder for her to be taken seriously than if she was a dominant and aggressive male. Yet, these could be considered personality traits, unrelated to our gender, but we find ourselves constantly mixing the two ideas.
With gender in the way of personality, interests are also effected. Why don’t more women go into certain fields like scientific research? Why don’t we have more women getting promoted to the top of companies? Perhaps because they would be considered odd for their gender and possibly not accepted or not be believed of their capabilities. Feelings of being outcast or rejected create doubt, and doubt can create a shift away from certain interests. Yes, you could put a woman in charge of a science experiment, but would her male counterparts trust her abilities? Would other women even trust it? I believe more often times then not, women learn to put other women down just as much as men.
Appearance is not reality, yet we let what we see judge easily about things we cannot see. If you were to see a beautiful young woman, clearly having concern about the way she looks, some might conclude that she is not very smart. Intelligence has nothing to do with the way we look or dress, yet we have a definition to what a nerd looks like. If someone didn’t fit our profile, we may have trouble accepting them for their true traits. How many preconceived notions do we have about what an intelligent person looks like, what a feminist looks like, a computer tech, a mechanic, a CEO, or anything else for that matter? How many times do we imagine something that we would not fit a woman into?
As the lines between men and women blur, I hope the notion of personality having any association with gender will be put to rest because honestly, I feel there are few things I do that don’t involve people thinking girl, girl, girl.
I thought I’d have a little fun with this post’s pictures. The top is me dressed in male drag! Below is a picture of me in the same year as a girl.
For some more reading on this subject, here’s a article discussing personality differences amongst boys and girls in relation to differing approaches to parenting styles.