Studies by the University of Toronto’s psychology department suggest that racism may impact some female minority groups more deeply than sexism.
“We found that Asian women take racism more personally and find it more depressing than sexism,” said lead author and doctoral student Jessica Remedios.
“In order to understand the consequences for people who encounter prejudice, we must consider the type of prejudice they are facing,” says Remedios.
In one study, 66 participants of Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Taiwanese and Japanese descent were assigned one of three hypothetical situations. They were all told to imagine they were trying to get permission to enrol in a course but the professor’s reasons for their denial were different.
For example, in one situation a Chinese student would be rejected from a course only to learn from a friend that no Chinese students were admitted but 10 white people were.
There were also participants who were told the professor didn’t let any women into the course and some subjects were personally rejected by being told the “professor thought they were stupid.”
The second study was intended to study more personal reactions to prejudice. Sixty participants of Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Filipino descent were assigned to write about a past experience of rejection because of racism, sexism or their personalities. They then were asked to rate their emotional responses on a scale of one to seven. According to Remedios, the women assigned to contemplate racism were more likely than those assigned to contemplate sexism to believe that they had been rejected by others because of ‘something about them’ or because of ‘who they are.’
“This suggests that to these women, racism feels like a personal rejection whereas sexism feels more like the result of others’ ignorance,” says Remedios.
The research was published in a paper entitled “Not all prejudices are experienced equally: Comparing experiences of racism and sexism in female minorities” co-written with UofT psychologist Alison Chasteen and recent Honours Bachelor of Science grad Jeffrey Paek. It appeared in the Group Processes and Intergroup Relationsjournal on June 17.