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The Contribution of Traditional Stereotypes to Inequality in Society

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In the society that we live in, others have stereotyped us or we have applied stereotypes to someone or a group of people. Stereotypes are defined as characteristics and attributes applied to a group of people. According to Hinton(2007) stereotypes manage by a group of people being identified by a defining characteristic and attribute, the group of people can be represented by a social status (class, age, gender, ethnicity and sexuality) and other attributes (hair colour, body weight, accent and political views). An example of a stereotype “men is better than women in Maths and Science” the group identified is gender which is women and male and the stereotype is ‘men are better than women in Maths and Science,’ which suggests that men are much more clever than women. However, this stereotype may be true, but this does not apply to all women because some women are good at maths and science. For example, Florence Nightingale, which was a nurse in the Crimean war where she used statistics to show that lots of soldiers who were dying not from the war they were fighting but because of the hospital conditions.

The thought of this stereotype subsequently allows men to think highly of themselves and think slowly about women which lead to social inequality. Where women receive less access to resources compared to men and also unequal outcomes in life. Therefore, the aim of this essay is to explain how stereotypes contribute to inequality. To begin with, this essay would discuss how stereotypes can lead to implicit bias which then contributes to social inequality. Furthermore, analyse how stereotypes underlie stereotypes threat which also impacts stereotype inequality. Lastly would sum up the whole essay and also suggest ways on how to overcome implicit bias and stereotype threat. According to Kerbo (2003), social inequality is defined as people who have unequal access to resources, services and positions and unequal outcomes in the society. For example in the society, we live in the differences in the gender pay gap in New Zealand, where’ve women get paid less compared to men. The causes of the gender pay gap in New Zealand, women spend less time in the workplace.

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Women are traditionally at home taking care of the children, and house chores compared to men who work more hours at the workplace. Also, to add in women often work in jobs paid less this could be due to the serotype ‘men are cleverer than women’ and by all means that men are most likely to be trusted with jobs with higher positions and therefore get paid more than women. Which leads to impact bias which defines as attitudes towards people and associate stereotypes with them without our conscious knowledge. (Perception Institute, n.d. Therefore the stereotypical views of men are cleverer than women influences decisions making about a career in the workforce which leads to social inequality which affects the women’s ability to support themselves and also their families. Stereotypes can lead to implicit bias which then contributes to social inequality.

Research by Peterson, Rubie‐Davies, Osborne, & Sibley (2016) explains the academic gap in New Zealand where’s the ethnic minority students do rarely efficiently at their school then the ethnic major students. There are 38 teachers and 1,060 students in each teacher’s class from the ages of six to 13. Some of these Students are Pakeha, Māori, Pacific, and Asian. Teachers can demonstrate implicit biases by stereotyping students by their ethnicity and success, for instance. Pakeha students did better in the test and Māori students failed the test where teachers can be judgemental and also underestimate students just for one fail in a test could lead to a negative impact on students as this would question their own perception of the ability to study. Therefore some Maori Students maintain less access to academic outcomes, career choices in the future. However, Pakeha students would pass and would get encouragement from the teachers which would represent a beneficial impact on their lives as this would encourage the students to study hard to pass all their examinations.

Stereotype threat is defined as when a person is at risk of confirming or fulfilling a negative stereotype about their group. Stereotype threat can cause social inequality within the society and its social insanitation. An example could be the stereotype of ‘men are better than women in Maths and Science. ‘The example from Moana story. Moana is good at Maths but when she took the maths test she considered the test hard and she felt frustrated as in the examination room her and looks around and recognise herself and another woman who attend the test and the rest are male students. The stereotype comes across her mind which distracts her, and she does not complete the examination. The stereotype threat can lead to underachievement in school which is the social inequality in society. In conclusion, this essay has discussed how stereotypes contribute to inequality by implicit bias and stereotype threat in the society that we live in. In the society we live in we have all been stereotyped in our lives or we have applied a stereotype to a person.

These stereotypes lead to implicit bias for example from the research done by Peterson, Rubie‐Davies, Osborne, & Sibley (2016) Teachers can demonstrate implicit biases by stereotyping students by their ethnicity and success and this causes social inequality where the students receive less access to academic careers. To overcome implicit bias project implicit, (n.d) suggested becoming friendlier towards elderly people if the person expresses an implicit preference for the younger generation. Moreover, stereotypes can also lead to stereotype threat and then to social inequality. To overcome stereotype threat, people must remember stereotypes cannot predict the person abilities based on the personal social status. Shapiro & Aronson,(2013, p.242) emphasis “stereotype threat can lift performances like when the task is sufficiently learned and has adopted a mind-set that puts learning before proving the student intelligence to others”. Stereotypes may true but always remember stereotypes does not apply to everyone.Word count:1001


  1. Blackburn, R.M. (2008). What is social inequality? International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 28(7/8), 250‐ 259.
  2. Hinton, P.R. (2000). Stereotypes, cognition and culture. Retrieved September 19,2018, from
  3. Nightingale, F., McDonald, L., & Nightingale, F. N. on nursing. (2009). Florence Nightingale : the Nightingale School.
  4. Waterloo, Ont. : Wilfred Laurier University Press, [2009]. Retrieved from Institute. (n.d.). Implicit bias. Retrieved September 19, 2018, from‐bias/
  5. Peterson, E.R., Rubie‐Davies, C., Osborne, D., & Sibley, C. (2016). Teachers’ explicit expectations and implicit prejudiced attitudes to educational achievement: Relations with student achievement and the ethnic achievement gap. Learning and Cognition, 42, 123‐140.
  6. Project Implicit. (n.d.). FAQs. Retrieved September 19, 2018 from, J., & Aronson, J. (2013). Stereotype threat. In C. Strangor & C.S. Crandall (Eds), Stereotyping and Prejudice. Retrieved from


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