Dont Genderize Me

Don’t Genderize Me - Talking Gender in Nepal

The last bounce of the ball echoed around the gym walls until slowly it faded away. Basketball practice ended late again, all because we couldn’t focus during the previous defensive drill. The coach drummed up the energy to yell until their face swelled under the loud screeches of anger. Making sure to keep the team and I running till we keeled over from exhaustion.

The first star in the night sky, trees look tall, and a cool breeze replaced the heat of the day. Under the moonlight, the streets lay calm. While walking home, I ran through the day’s events, pondering my IT and cooking classes. Thinking of the endless lines of code, I had to write; I can’t even imagine how the app is even going to work. They say hard work pays off, but I don’t know, it was hours of work!

Luckily, I got to celebrate my hard work in cooking! I finally was able to cook something edible. With my apron still tied around my waist, I sat down at my group table with a smile and a blueberry pie baked to perfection. One small step for me, one giant leap for my cooking!

After a bit of daydreaming, I realized how late it was. With no light but the street-lamps dancing above, I felt free and at peace. I walked past my favorite park with the two swings and the tree we used to climb. The nostalgia was thick. I could almost still feel the time I fell out of the tree and broke my hand as I reached my front door.

You Got More from the Story Than Was Told

I wrote this story with one person in mind, but I’ve given you no indication to who they are. I told their story and let you make your inferences for yourself. Is it a boy? Is it a girl?

You most likely made a decision and concluded the gender of the person.

What was your first thought?

More importantly, how did you do it? And why did you do it?

Gender Bias

Gender refers to the characteristics of women, men, boys and girls, that are socially constructed. The social constructs include norms, behaviors and roles associated with these socially constructed characteristics and the relationship between them.

A study called, ‘Bias at the intersection of race and gender: Evidence from preschool-aged children’ reported that gender bias must be addressed before children reach kindergarten. They noted that children’s sensitivity to negative social biases could be induced or intensified when they witness expressions of gender bias, intentional or unintentional.

One powerful source of social bias is language, primarily when social categories are named. The naming or categorization of people (Pat is a woman; John is a man) facilitate children’s establishment of social classes and amplify the inductive strength of these categories in children’s reasoning about others.

These categories are perpetuated throughout a person’s life. Whereas, the UNDP’s Gender Social Norms Index stated:

Despite decades of progress in closing the gender equality gap, close to nine out of 10 men and women around the world, hold some sort of bias against women.


About half of the world’s men and women feel that men make better political leaders, and over 40 per cent feel that men make better business executives.

Engrained Gender Biases

Biases have been engrained within each of us. We are bombarded with media reinforcing these biases, from every medium: written, visual, and even spoken.

Written: In 2017, the Académie française, France’s ultimate authority on the French language, was thundering against ‘the aberration of “inclusive writing”’, claiming that ‘the French language finds itself in mortal danger’ from workarounds for the generic masculine (Invisible Women, 2019).

Spoken: In 2012, a World Economic Forum analysis found that countries with gender-inflected languages, which have strong ideas of the masculine and feminine present in almost every utterance, are the most unequal in terms of gender. But here’s an interesting quirk: countries with genderless languages (such as Hungarian and Finnish) are not the most equal. Instead, that honor belongs to a third group, countries with ‘natural gender languages’ such as English. These languages allow gender to be marked (female teacher, male nurse) but largely don’t encode it into the words themselves (Invisible Women, 2019).

Visual: A total of 5,799 speaking or named characters were evaluated in films released in theaters from 2010 to 2013. The study showed that out of the total characters, 30.9% female and 69.1% male. This calculates into a gender ratio of 2.24 males to every one female. This finding is somewhat surprising, given that females represent 49.6% of the population worldwide (Gender Bias Without Borders)

Gender Bias Take Away:

Gender inequalities are still plaguing the world with no sign of slowing down.

From a young age, gender biases become engrained. By introducing children to biases, they internalize it unconsciously, and ultimately, perpetuate the problem further.

For children, we need to engage in conversation around gender biases early and often. By doing this, we can blaze a trail toward equity long before girls and boys are engaging in romantic relationships, choosing college majors, or entering the workforce.

For adults, we need to evaluate our own biases first. We need to be mindful of the language we use, the perspectives we hold about our abilities and traits, and especially, the way we treat people of different genders.

Did your gender bias influence your decision? Tell me who you think I was talking about in the comments below.