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Lauren Hamme, “One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: The Journey Toward Gender Equality”

Lauren Hamme is being recognized for active reading, critical examination of evidence, and seamless integration of sources. In her cause and effect argument, Hamme unravels the complex, layered research studies of six social psychologists to support her claim that gender inequality, despite the rise of the feminist movement, is still prevalent in the workplace. Hamme’s clear, cohesive prose makes deep, complex research accessible for her readers and relevant to her claim.

Explaining how her interest in this topic was sparked, Hamme writes:

With the research paper, I discussed how gender stereotypes affected women’s progression in the workplace. I knew that this setback would affect me later in life, so I decided to familiarize myself with issues of gender inequality. Since I did not approve of the double standards that affected women on a daily basis, I proposed a resolution to that ongoing problem. I encouraged education systems to foster their students’ creativity at early stages as opposed to discriminating “what is for him” versus “what is for her.” As a sociology major, I need to recognize the patterns of social evolution because all progress comes with a price.

Read an excerpt from “One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: The Journey Toward Gender Equality”:

Social psychologists Elizabeth L. Haines, Kay Deaux, and Nicole Lofaro questioned if Americans’ perceptions of gender have changed to reflect women’s progression as a whole. They composed a study that referred to research conducted by J.T. Spence and E.D. Hahn that collected data from college students in 1972, 1976, and 1992. Spence and Hahn evaluated the data using the Attitudes Towards Women Scale (AWS). Through extensive analysis, they determined that the lowest amounts of egalitarianism were present in the 1972 cohort while the most egalitarian attitudes dominated the 1992 group (354). It is no surprise that the general public held more conservative views in the 1970s than in the 1990s because fewer women pursued professional careers. Therefore, the results of the data indicate more Americans have opened their minds to the possibilities of gender equality with the passing of each decade.

To gain a stronger perspective of the impact of women’s progress, Haines, Deaux, and Lofaro also consulted research conducted by J.M. Twenge that assessed significant changes in gender stereotypes. Twenge used the Bem Sex Role Inventory (BSRI) and the Personal Attributes Questionnaire (PAQ) to evaluate the shift in gender-based characteristics from the 1970s to the 1990s. The women’s performance on the BSRI masculinity scale, which measured traits such as independence and assertiveness, were “positively correlated with the year of publication” (354). In other words, women in the 1990s exhibited higher levels of masculine qualities while women in the 1970s did the exact opposite. The men’s score from the BSRI masculinity scale also “showed an increase over the same time” although the correlation was weaker than that of women (354). Overall, these scores conveyed a steady trend toward a “more liberal America” (354). However, it is important to note that these studies’ results did not communicate a possible shift in gender stereotypes. The outcomes only validated that women have assumed more masculine characteristics to play larger roles in society. Haines, Deaux, and Lofaro then conducted their own research using a “one-way multivariate analysis of variance” (MANOVA) to “understand the extent of gender stereotyping” in the 21st century and “assess if beliefs about men and women” have improved with time (357). After observing patterns of gender relations such as role behaviors, occupations, and physical characteristics, they concluded that women’s transition from the home to the workplace was not strong enough to counter the predominating stereotypes regarding gender norms (361). The results of these studies verified that women have progressed with each decade. From establishing themselves in the workplace to assuming male-dominated roles, women have proven themselves as more than just “pretty faces.” However, women [may] continue to struggle up the corporate ladder due to the gender . . . stereotypes in the workplace.