Arkansas Ranked Among Most Sexist States in US, Students Respond

A study found Arkansas to be one of the most sexist states in the country, but some UA students feel that those attitudes are not reflected on campus.

Researchers found that a woman's birthplace and where she currently lives dictates wages, labor force participation and ages of marriage and childbearing, according to Kerwin Kofi Charles and his colleagues.

In Charles’ study The Effects of Sexism on American Women, Arkansas received some of the highest levels of sexist attitudes after survey subjects responded to statements about gender issues.

Charles and his colleagues pulled eight of the most commonly asked questions from the General Social Survey (GSS) for their research. Statements such as “Women should take care of running their home and leave running the country up to men” and “A working mother can establish just as warm and secure a relationship with her children as a mother who does not work” attempt to measure the prevalence of sexist attitudes in an area, according to the study.

Sophomore Reggan Parrish notices sexist attitudes on campus in passive ways, she said. For example, Parrish was familiar with New York Magazine’s Jessica Roy’s manslamming theory, which poses the question of whether men are more likely to bump into people in crowded walkways than women.

Parrish tested this theory at the UofA by not moving out of the way of men walking toward her and ran into multiple men, she said. Women were more likely to move away, while many men refused to move, Roy said.

Junior Blair Carver has witnessed sexism on campus, but she does not think the report actually reflects Arkansas as a whole because it compartmentalizes sexist behaviors off of survey questions, she said. She thinks a more effective way to rank sexism by state would be immersion in southern culture, Carver said.

Emily Vanderford, sophomore and Chi Omega sorority member, has not experienced sexism in her sorority. Sororities empower women by connecting them, and the opportunity to make new friends is really uplifting, she said.

Senior Maya Black experienced sexism her junior year from another student while working on a group project where she was the only woman, she said. The male students undermined her opinions and did not accept the ideas that she contributed, she said.

Junior Blossom Amechi was appalled by one of the survey questions, which presents the idea that women should take care of running their homes and leave running the country up to men, she said. Amechi has never experienced any sexist attitudes on campus, but she thinks she may have never noticed it, she said.

Angie Maxwell, associate professor of political science, thinks that the statements in the study measure the prevalence of traditional gender roles in an area rather than sexist attitudes, she said.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) signed into law a maternity-leave bill in 2017, which provides four weeks of paid maternity leave for state employees, according to a press release.

The UofA does not offer paid maternity leave, which can make it difficult for working moms, Maxwell said.

Maxwell is a working mother and thinks that the UofA has been flexible even though paid maternity leave is not offered, she said.

“We need to do everything we can to stop the assumption that someone is home from eight to five,” Maxwell said.

The UofA offers night classes and intersession courses that help mothers balance their workload, Maxwell said.  

UA faculty are required to participate in a discriminatory harassment training within the first six months of employment, said Mark Rushing, assistant vice chancellor of University Relations, in an email.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforces federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate and affirmative action is in practice to prevent discrimination on campus, according to the Fayetteville Policies and Procedures on Non-Discrimination.

Other states that received high levels of sexism are Utah, Alabama, West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee, according to the report. Residents of New Hampshire, Alaska, Wyoming, Vermont, Colorado and Connecticut showed the lowest levels of sexism, but none are specifically lower than others because the average margin is very small.  

Hawaii, Idaho, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, and Maine are not included in Charles’ research because his research team did not pull data from these states, according to the study.


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