Description of the prompt
Frankly, I had to do some google searching to clarify my basic understanding of stereotype threat. These threats arise from the way others have thought of certain groups of people in the past. This way of thinking has been ingrained in those who continue to live without an open mind, as well as those who don’t realize there is a stereotype because it has been normalized. In many instances growing up, I have witnessed stereotype threats against others as well as myself. However, when I have been stereotyped in the past, I always felt as though the other person was right and I was wrong. I’m unsure of why this is the case, but as I’ve matured, I know that I make a conscious effort to stand up for myself and others in these situations.
The impact stereotype threat has on my life
As I mentioned above, stereotyping has made me realize a lot about myself. In the past, I have heard things like because I’m a girl I can’t do certain things (become a prominent influence in school or the workplace, excel in sports, etc). I have also been patronized more times than I can count based on the sole fact that because I’m a girl, I’m just not as smart as others. A major memory I have about this is when I worked at a veterinary clinic a few years ago. Before the doctor got to know who I was, he placed me in this box and decided that I wasn’t as smart, intuitive, or capable of performing at the same level as my coworker (who was a male). This was clearly evident in the way he talked with me versus the other employee. I was spoken to as if I had no clue what was going on and that I needed extra explaining when it came to certain procedures or everyday tasks. At first I thought that the doctor was right and that I should just take what he says at face value. At a certain point, however, I got incredibly tired of being talked to like I had no common sense. This is about where I realized that I needed to stand up for myself and that it wasn’t okay for me to simply accept the way I was being treated. So I quit. From this point on, I made sure that I wouldn’t let anyone make me feel like that again. In turn, I speak out for people who I think might be in the same position that I was a few years ago, and for those who might have the same mindset that I did.
For the future
I think the first thing that needs to be done in order to resolve this issue is acknowledging that there is an issue in the first place, as well as completely understanding the impact it has. Personally, I was sheltered early in life and didn’t have the exposure or experience to understand how stereotyping can truly affect people. We all make mistakes, but there is a line that has to be drawn. In class, I was able to acknowledge the many, many different ways that someone can feel insecure about themselves and apply this information to how I carry myself or talk to others who might be different than me. I think that this class should not only be mandatory for APSC students, but for everyone (even undergraduates). Diversity & Inclusion provides the basis for knowing how to approach such sensitive topics, and I believe that is a skill that quite literally everyone needs to acquire, especially in higher education.