Gender and Qualifications

When you see a last name that’s a profession that is usually associated with males and strength, you would think that the person is a male – even if the first name could easily be for both men and women. Besides, this person is a leader of the team. You think, “oh, this person must be quite cool.”

Then you google this person and you find out that it’s a middle-aged female. What do you think? For me, I’m extremely embarrassed to say that I felt disappointed – and then disgusted by my own gender bias, despite being a woman myself!

Then you scroll down to look at her qualifications and what she has done (typical behaviour of paper-chasing Singaporeans) and realise that she graduated from one of the world’s best university. And following that realisation, the amount of respect you have for her surged. Yes, your admiration for her just increased many times because of her qualifications.

I should stop typing in second person, because I was the one who just did and experienced all of the above. It’s disgusting and I’m horrified by my own bias, for I had always thought that I didn’t really care about that. But no, I just realised that I didn’t not care about gender bias, I had just been so indifferent to the point that I’m nearly chauvinistic. I’m a woman, but I’m such a bad feminist. In another vein, I’m such a realist – like many adults in Singapore (and elsewhere), I’ve unknowingly adopted the practice of judging others based on their qualifications and, as my mum would say, 文凭越大张越好 – the very practice and mindset I had been so sick and tired of.

Honestly though, I wasn’t entirely shocked by my own emotions. But I am thoroughly, thoroughly disgusted.


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