Dealing with People


Society has a given set of ideas on how one should dress, act, behave, and even present themselves based on their gender. Such thoughts have deep stereotypic roots about the role of each gender in society. Generally, most societies have predefined expectations of how one is expected to groom, speak, and act according to their assigned sex (Jones et al. 2014). For instance, women are expected to dress in a feminine way and be polite and nurturing, while men are expected to be strong, family pillars, bold, and aggressive (Gupta, Turban, & Pareek 2013). These expectations tend to vary based on societal beliefs. Some expectations are too intricate for each gender to the point of assigning specific colors to either gender. For example, the pink color is mostly considered to be feminine, while the black color is associated with masculinity.

Forms of Stereotypes in Social Settings

Stereotypes are widely accepted judgments or biases about a person or a particular group. In most instances, stereotypic behaviors tend to be overly simplified and inaccurate. Stereotypes regarding gender are more predominant and result in unfair treatment at workplaces and at home, which ultimately results in unequal opportunities for the biased party. Hence, one common stereotypic behavior is sexism, which propagates a belief that people of one gender are inherently superior to other genders. Sexism is expressed in different forms in most social settings. For example, society portrays different pictures of what female and male personalities should look like. Thus, women are expected to be accommodating and emotional. In turn, men are expected to be aggressive and self-confident. Besides, sexism is common at the domestic level where most family chores, including cooking and cleaning the house are activities performed by women. Men are, on the contrary, seen as family breadwinners with all the related responsibilities, including meeting the family’s financial requirements like paying for school fees and utility bills that may arise within the home setting (Gupta et al. 2013). Gender stereotyping also occurs in various occupations. Most societies have prescribed careers for males and females based on perceived features in society. Since women are largely emotional and caring, it is more common to find them in teaching and nursing careers. In turn, men are expected to show aggressive and physical attributes as society expects them to be pilots, doctors, and engineers.

This way, sexism in the community is commonly applied to girls and women. It is used to maintain male dominance through ideology and material practices of individuals and institutions that oppress women and girls based on their gender. This type of oppression usually takes the form of economic exploitation and social dominance. From this perspective, men and women are opposite parties with different roles in society: women are seen as the weaker sex than men, thereby allowing them to question their capability to do or take part in certain activities, especially in the realm of logic and rational thinking. In turn, women are relegated to the domestic realm of nurturing and emotions and, therefore, cannot be good leaders in business, politics, or even academics (Latu, Marianne, Lammers, & Bombari2013). Women are generally seen as being good in the kitchen and being caretakers, but these efforts are greatly devalued and sometimes even not valued at all as compared to the work of men. The most extreme form of sexism in society is misogyny. This is hatred of women and in such a society, women face high rates of brutality from men in the form of domestic violence and rape. In such instances, women’s bodies are only seen as commodities and are mistreated even at the institutional level. For example, in the case of rape, the victim might be told by the jury that she was raped because of the way she was dressed.

Real-Life Example

I have attempted to exert my influence over one of my friends by arguing that sexism was applied in the work setting using different approaches. I have used several examples for elaborating my points. My friend is predominantly a conservative individual and, as such, is deeply entrenched in the traditional roles of men and women in society. First, I explained that women were major victims of sexist notions within the workplace. I provided the example of Estonia, which has significantly huge pay gaps between men and women. I informed my friend how most jobs were segregated with men working in the construction industry and managing big businesses and women working in the education system and other civil services. This resulted in a 30% difference in wages between men and women. Similarly, even if both sexes worked within the same profession, men were still paid more than women. My friend responded that men were paid more because they had more duties in society as compared to women. Since we could not agree on the first point, I decided to use another example, showing vast gender discrimination among people with disabilities. I told my friend how a disabled woman in Iraq had different rights from those of her male counterparts. Such women are normally taken away from the public limelight and in most cases are considered as being insane. Society sometimes perceives them as being bewitched by evil spirits or abominations. Men are treated differently in such localities with some of them being provided with the best healthcare services to assist them with getting back to their feet. My friend’s response was also aggressive and indicated that men had essentially more important roles to play in society as compared to women. My friend also emphasized that society placed a huge burden of responsibility on men. Several examples include taking care of the entire family and ensuring that successive lineages understand specific cultural practices. Hence, the last aspect that I looked at was the low number of women in various management positions. I attributed this to societal expectations, which primarily assigned men to be the head followed by women. I attempted to convince my friend that either gender had the same rights in determining who should hold any management position. My friend fired back by indicating that in most social settings men were expected to be the heads of the family and, as such, they should take the top management positions in the company. My friend also argued that men were aggressive and tended to exert more effort in managing companies as compared to women who were considered more emotionally minded.

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Ideally, I intended to change the perception of my friend regarding the extent of sexism in society. I understood that my friend had primarily grown up in a society that had numerous restrictions for women and, as such, he believed that men were supposed to be in charge of everything in the society. The only way I would have known that my influence was working would be a change in his perception of sexism. Complete influence over my friend would have meant that he agreed that men and women needed to be paid equally in the workplace, work positions should be provided equally to both genders, and disabled individuals in the community should be treated in the same way regardless of their gender. My friend rejected all of the aforementioned positions and in the process implied divergent views that were well enshrined in his community’s cultural beliefs.


Although organizational settings have specific rules and regulations relating to sexism in the workplace, most employees have predefined views on what constitutes sexism in the workplace and, as a result, tend to unknowingly apply sexist principles to fellow employees. In the above case, my friend has never believed that women should be paid equally to men in society or that they should be at the helm of the company. I have attempted to convince my friend that most of the aforementioned statements were sexist and stemmed from stereotypical beliefs that favor only one gender. My friend’s strong inclination to cultural practices has made it more difficult to understand and accept my point of view. As a consequence, I have not achieved my intended goal as my friend still believes that men should hold a higher position in society as compared to women. Some of the reasons provided by my friend are common across most societal settings and have been quoted in several different books.

Several defense mechanisms have been used by my friend in opting out of some of the questions and comments regarding the nature of sexism in the workplace. The major defense mechanism utilized is denial where there was a total refusal to accept facts, which had been published in some peer-reviewed journals. Hence, my friend seemed not to catch a grasp of what I was explaining. I attempted to provide examples showing that there was a widespread problem in the manner in which women were treated in the workplace. I even used statistical figures in describing the extent of sexism in the workplace. All of these facts were denied with a major rebuttal quoted from different sources. Another common defense mechanism, which was readily applied by my friend, involved outright repression of some examples that I was providing. In most cases, I was requested to prove my resource, as well as being asked whether the information was accurately reported. My friend also wanted to know the exact source of information that was later disparaged as being untrue. Another defense mechanism employed by my friend was reactive formation. This form of defense mechanism requires an individual to be in total denial of what is happening around them while being afraid of confronting their own beliefs. Thus, my friend seemed to deny the fact that women were being treated differently as compared to men in workplaces and organizations. My only way of neutralizing the discussion was through the use of facts that had been published in some peer-reviewed journals, which served to show that the research had been conducted on a specific subject and that there was sufficient information to explain the extent of the problem.

The use of published facts and statistics helps to show that the issues under discussion have been extensively researched (Schwarzer 2014). The matter is that many people would believe only in published facts and not mere suggestions. For a specific published fact to be used to influence any party, it should be related to the subject of discussion and the authors should not have any outstanding issues. Any mistake with a published fact or the presence of complicated information would always give the other side a major reason for doubting the facts (Firestone & Scholl 2015). The second key approach is the proper use of statistics from some recognized international bodies that are known across the world. For example, more people would believe the information provided by an organization such as the United Nations as compared to a local newspaper report on the same issue. The use of statistics is commonly used to show the extent of a particular issue. For example, in the example above statistics were used to show low numbers of women who headed individual companies.

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Furthermore, influence in interpersonal situations depends on several factors, including age, expert opinion, and status. Young people are more likely to be influenced to a large extent by older generations. Age is one of the common variables associated with wisdom and, therefore, many young people listen to the elderly and believe that everything said by the latter is the truth. However, this is far from reality as some information is inaccurate. Ethically, it is also wrong to follow one individual’s belief based on age rather than the content or information being passed. Expert opinion is more likely to provide accurate information due to the amount of research conducted, as well as references to previous research supporting such findings. It is ethical to follow expert opinion since it is based on existing facts, which have been proven by more than one scholar (Schwarzer 2014). Nevertheless, the status of an individual in society may be unethically used to influence a group of people. Most societies are defined by individuals from the upper class who in most cases hold key positions. Due to their current status, there is always a perception that rich individuals are more likely to influence more people as compared to poor people. However, the use of positions of power to influence any individual should be considered unethical. All of the above measures depend on an individual’s level of education. Some of the responses provided have been based on recent information and statistical information, which is readily available for everyone.


Overall, influence over any individual is based on several factors, including an individual’s entrenchment in cultural practices, education levels, and status. An individual’s entrenchment in some cultural practices, which have been established over time, is more difficult to change as compared to other factors, including the education level. The difference stems from the notion that cultures are developed over time and form a major part of the individual’s identity. Education levels and status in society are factors that largely depend on the individual’s cultural practices. Education levels help sieve myths and misconceptions, which may be the main barrier to influencing people in society. The status level of an individual in society is usually associated with the presence of more influence over others, yet the use of such a method is unethical. When available factors like status and power eventually disappear, there are more chances that the respective influence may also decrease at a faster rate as compared to educational intervention methods. Thus, before an individual fully accepts that he/she is influenced, it is essential to find out the motif of the influencer. Concerning the latter, some motives may include money and power.

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