Double Standards

As women we know the double standards that are against us when referring to relationships, dating, and personal care. However, the double standards in the workplace and in school has been a topic of discussion amongst women I’ve had conversations with over the past few weeks. The double standards that apply to men and women in life and in the workplace are obvious. Yet, the double standards against minority women and Caucasian women are present but much more subtle.

I have countless experiences where my opinion, suggestion, or answer to a question has been challenged by both Caucasian men and women. For example, in my physics class, if my partners submitted homework that received full credit it was because they were smart. However, if I submitted homework that received full credit, they reasoned that it was because I looked it up on the internet. In the same class all of my suggestions or ideas were challenged, questioned, or had to be verified by the professor. Yet, neither of my partner’s suggestions or ideas was challenged, even when they were wrong.

I have many similar experiences at work. I have been at my job for almost five years. I could go on about the things I have experienced. One woman I was speaking to about this matter expressed her concern as well. Not only do all women have to work twice as hard to prove themselves “equal” to men in the workplace, but minority women have to work even harder to prove themselves “equal” to Caucasian women in the workplace. One place, that will remain nameless, was in the hiring process for a new employee. Amongst hundreds of applications, it was narrowed down to three of the most qualified applicants. Up to this point only their qualifications, résumés, and work experiences were reviewed. So it was safe to say that all three candidates were qualified for the position. It was not until the interview process that the committee was able to see the three candidates in person. They wanted to interview the most qualified candidate first; they did not know she was African American. They interviewed the next candidate and before even getting to the third they decided that the second candidate was “their best option.”

Recently, one of my friends was in a threatening situation with her Caucasian roommate. As college students we know the woes of having roommates. My friend placed one of her items on the counter that was filled with items from the other roommates. When she came home, the item was in front of her door. This wasn’t the first time her roommates touched her belongings so she was understandably upset and my friend asked her roommates why they moved her possessions. Instead of trying to settle the situation, her roommate pulled out a knife and started to twirl the knife. My friend decided to call the police. When the police arrived, not only did they not write a report they told my friend that she would have to go to the courthouse to handle the situation, and they also escorted my friend out of the apartment to stay with someone, “to keep peace.” What do you think would have been the result if the situation had been the other way around?

Have you had any similar experiences? Do you agree or disagree?