A widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.
Stereotypes stem from 3 primary causes, prejudice, bias and discrimination.
People form social stereotypes based on assumptions they make from people’s lifestyles, social status, religion and more. While all stereotypes may not be false, all of them are harmful to an extent.
Try it for yourself: picture this, a man in his 20s who is a college dropout. Now try to think of what job he might have. Most of us will be quick to assume that the man doesn’t have an occupation. Who knows? We might be right. Or he’s Steve Jobs.
Let’s take another example, a white woman asking to “see the manager”. A certain word starting with K comes to mind, doesn’t it?
These were but simple examples. When stereotypes propagate through various communities, cultures and social groups, we start seeing negative results. Ethnic and racial stereotypes, sexism, gender roles, homophobia; the list is endless. And while one might think “Ah, I’m not someone who stereotypes at all”, you might be surprised. Stereotypes spread fast and thus bind communities in a vicious circle where it’s one social group making assumptions about the other. The most noticeable stereotype among people from our generation, however, is the stereotypes about people living in certain places.
Several studies have shown that when foreigners think of India, they think “Traditions, tourism and curry’ but they also think “Villages, riding elephants for transport and uneducation”.
Here’s a quick exercise, think of a country you’ve never been to and mentally list 5 things you’ve heard about the place. Chances are, more than half of them are stereotypes. The question of them being good or bad arises later.
So how does one escape this circle of stereotypes? Follow the 2 Es, educate and experience.
Educate yourself and those around you. Read up, have difficult conversations and share. Experience to understand and embrace different cultures to break your stereotypes.
With AIESEC, you get to do both. Go on an adventure of self-discovery as you shatter and form new stereotypes about people and their cultures abroad!
Want to develop your personal & professional skills in a hands-on experience through AIESEC's international exchange programs?
In a room full of strangers you can count on me to start a conversation, I can talk about absolutely anything and everything. A little bit of art, photography and writing is what I am all about. Being a part of AIESEC has given me a new perspective towards life and I hope you gain from this beautiful experience too!
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