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For how many of you does the following situation sound familiar:
you are with a group of friends, you are all dressed up,
and someone whips out a camera.
There is mostly girls in the group.
You are going to see a little something like this.
Now imagine there is mostly guys in the group.
Same camera comes up.
You are going to see something more along the lines of this.
Interestingly enough, probably with my having said anything,
you could have told me which gender each of these behaviors is associated with.
Even more interestingly, this is hugely consistent
across boundaries, across nations, and cultures.
Why is it that we can categorize these two behaviors as distinctly male or female?
Is there something evolutionary about it?
Is there some benefit to us, whether we have XX or XY chromosomes,
to act one way or another?
When I think about behavioral or cultural analysis,
the first resource I look to is Facebook.
This is me on Facebook.
As you can see, I am portraying a lot of the female stereotypes
that we might think about.
I am tilting my head, such that my inner ears are misaligned from the upright axis,
which puts me off-balance.
My legs are crossed in such a way that if you even pushed me a little bit,
I would probably fall to the ground.
Further, this little cultural phenomenon made an appearance in my pose;
it is clearly not helping me, but the "Peace" sign is there.
Taking a look at the other end of the spectrum, this is my dad.
He would be amused to know that he is in my PowerPoint.
This is the smile I was trying to talk about earlier.
You know that, "I want to act like I am here, I am interested,
but I really do not want to seem like I care too much what I look like
so mostly I am just having this mental struggle and I am uncomfortable.
Please just let this photo be over."
Same thing with his body language; he is leaning back.
Thank goodness he had a pocket because otherwise,
his hand would be going through the same mental struggle.
As we can see, none of these gender norms, none of these behaviors
are actually helping either gender.
They are just for aesthetic reasons,
so the biological explanation seems unlikely.
What we know from social psychology
is that this is very much a cultural phenomenon.
We are a culture, are socialized into the norms that our society expects of us.
As men and women, there are expectations for how we will act in society
in order for it to run smoothly.
We are taught that from a very young age.
As a dancer, I have to be hyper-aware of my body language and what it means.
For women, these social stereotypes
are things like kindness, friendliness, and cooperativity.
For men, the cultural stereotypes are assertiveness, power, taking a stand.
As a dancer, whatever I do, whatever movement I make,
is very calculated, and it is always for a purpose,
to try to get a specific perception from the audience.
When I am doing something like hip-hop for example,
I notice that I spread my legs out wider.
I lean forward a little bit more, and I am definitely more aggressive.
Something a little bit like this.
(Dancing) ( Chiddy Bang-"Pass Out")
Like that.
That was what I would do as a hip-hop dancer.
As you can see, a lot of the things we saw in my dad, or in the spread-out,
- leaning forward, aggression - is what I was doing there.
Whereas, when I contrasted it with something more balletic,
like lyrical or contemporary,
I realised that I took on many of the feminine norms
I was talking about earlier.
That coy, kind of flirtatious look;
definitely more sexualized form.
Something like this.
(Dancing) (Lorde - "Royals")
That is what I would call a lyrical form of dance.
Thank you.
All these things came to me and I realised that when I am choreographing,
when I am thinking about hip-hop versus a lyrical piece,
what I am actually doing is deciding what gender I want the audience to see me as;
what stereotypes I would like to activate in all of you when I start dancing.
Then it occurred to me
that there is no way that this is limited to the stage, or to Facebook.
If my leaning forward, and spreading my legs out, and being aggressive
activates in you the stereotype of power, of confidence,
then what does it mean when I sit in class like this?
Which is probably something you see in a lot of women in public spaces, offices.
It is a pretty common default position.
I certainly sit like this, usually with my thighs over my hands.
It is literally a physically compacting position.
If leaning forward means confidence, then I started to wonder what this means.
Probably the opposite.
Then I started to contrast it with my male colleagues.
I would look around me in class and see boys sitting like this,
which is something we would expect of men.
But this activates something that is consistent with leadership.
Power, assertiveness, "I know what I am doing".
I realised that these things cannot be limited
to dance, or the stage, or to Facebook.
And that they must have consequences.
The fact is that they do.
A recent Harvard Business review article told participants
to read a script to an audience.
They were given identical scripts,
but half the participants were placed in power positions.
The other half were not.
Those who were placed in power positions, at the end of reciting the script,
reported that they felt more confidence in what they were saying,
that they believe they deserved the position they were going for more.
Further, they were judged by the audience
as being more competent, and more fit to lead.
Finally, they even had a physiological response,
such that their testosterone levels rose.
What I started to see is that body language
it's just the tip of the iceberg.
Body language is the symptom of a much deeper problem
which is that in our society,
the gender norms and stereotypes that we ascribe to men and women
differentially place them to succeed in society and to be leaders.
For example, the norms associated with women; commonality, friendliness.
These are not consistent with what we need in a leader.
Those that we see in men; power, assertiveness,
that is what we want in a leader.
In order to see these phenomena come out in an interview-type setting,
Dr. Moss-Racusin and her team ran an experiment
where they created a mock interview.
They had participants watch a male or a female actor
being in an interview setting, saying the exact same script.
They found very different responses from their participants.
What they found was they had them watch identical videos.
The actors had the same intonations, they said the same words at the same time,
and for the same amount of time, and had identical resumes.
What they found from audience members were reactions like,
"The woman was too arrogant."
"She talked about herself too much."
But the man was considered bright, a leader,
someone I would want in my work-space.
But this is not only a problem for women.
This is a problem for men as well.
The same experiment was repeated,
expect now, they had the actors act modestly on purpose.
They told them to emphasize teamwork, togetherness
instead of their own personal attributes.
This time, the results were reversed; people liked the woman more.
They said that she seemed like someone they would want in their workplace.
But the man was considered weak, incompetent.
What does this mean about what we value in our leadership?
Studies have shown again and again
that teamwork, cooperativity, that is what leads to innovation.
But that is what we are selecting out of our population. Especially for men.
What I am trying to get at with this is that men and women act differently,
but it is largely because of our cultural constructs.
It is not genetic.
What this means is that there is a silver lining.
We can change our cultural constructs, we can change our expectations,
and that will change behaviour.
Why this is a problem and why this is something we need to pay attention to?
If we are limiting our pool of innovation by essentially 50% because of gender bias,
we are not getting the most qualified people
into the positions where they need to be.
It is statistically impossible.
People like Jane Goodall, Alice Stewart, would have been left out in history
had gender bias kept them from getting the opportunities they had.
Jane Goodall revolutionized the study of primatology.
She found an entirely new approach to study the chimpanzees:
she decided that breaking away from the traditional form
where the researcher would come in and assert themselves
in the community of chimps,
she would slowly inch in, a much gentler approach, very conservative,
and found observations we couldn't have found any other way.
The grant that she got, was originally not going to be given to her
because it was not considered proper for a woman to go into the jungle alone.
How do we solve this problem?
I propose that we start where the problem starts.
Research has shown the gender stereotypes are already ingrained in children
at the age of three and a half.
I think this is where the intervention needs to begin.
I propose that we instill early childhood education and training programs
for educators and parents alike.
This way we can let them know the subtle behaviors that they might be showing,
with children, that perpetuate harmful gender stereotypes into the future.
For example, one study showed
that if a kindergarten classroom is recorded for the entirety of a day,
even if teachers know they are being recorded,
they tend to call on boys significantly more often than on girls,
even if equal numbers of boys and girls are raising their hands.
Further, when girls blurt out answers without raising their hands,
they are disproportionately scolded for doing so,
whereas boys tend to be recognised for their insight.
Girls, on the other hand, are most often complimented
on their shoes, their hair, and their dresses.
One can only imagine what effect this has over a lifetime.
If you are told what matters is your appearance,
and you are often not recognised for trying, for taking a risk,
you see what we saw before; women literally, physically shrink.
They make themselves small.
They say less. They hesitate more.
They speak softly.
Men, on the other hand, feel that they can't talk about their feelings.
They feel that it is wrong to ask for help,
and that they need to figure everything out on their own.
We know that this is not OK for mental health and for many other reasons.
What I propose is that we let teachers know from an early age,
"Just be aware, you might be turning slightly towards the boys in the classroom
in math class, and towards the girls in the classroom in English,
due to a subconscious expectation."
Further, I would hope that this would expand to corporations and organizations.
Letting interviewers know, as potential employers,
that they should pinpoint
exactly why they did not like an interviewee or liked an interviewee,
before they write them off,
so that we can avoid letting gender stereotypes dictate
who we let into our organizations more than merit.
If there are three things I hope you take away from this,
it is one: that the gender differences that we see in behaviour
are cultural constructs, so we have the power to change them.
Two: the reason it is important to change them is because we are limiting
our pool of innovation by nearly 50%, and we have so much more potential.
And three: there are so many ways
that each of you, today, can begin solving this problem.
Next time you see a parent or a teacher,
or anyone interacting with a young student,
think about what they might be reinforcing
that could help perpetuate gender stereotypes that we want to eliminate.
Think about it next time you are on a hiring committee:
Why you did not like that applicant or why you loved that applicant?
Is it something specific about their merit?
We have narrowed down a problem, we have a lot of ways to solve it.
All we need is action.
Thank you.


【TEDx】ダンサーの目線から見たボディランゲージと性別(Body language and gender from a dancer's perspective | Natalia Khosla | TEDxYale)

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Kit Yung 2016 年 12 月 3 日 に公開
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