Do Something about Sexism | Peace Through Action USA

What is sexism?

Sexism operates under a system of oppression which favors cisgender men.  Therefore, an important distinction should be made between sexism and gender-based prejudice.  Sexism is the systemic prejudice and discrimination of women, girls, and gender non-conforming persons, whereas gender-based prejudice is individual bias, although still existing within a sexist system.[1]

[1] Masequesmay, G. (2016, April 10). Sexism. Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved December 22, 2017, from https://www.britannica.com/topic/sexism.

How widespread is sexism in the United States?

Sexism has been widespread in the US since the birth of the nation.  For instance, it was not until 1920 that white women gained the right to vote, and not until 1965 that black women gained the right to vote[2]. Sexism is still widespread in the US today in various ways:

  • Black women make 64¢ for every white male dollar, and Latina women make 55¢ for every white male dollar.[3]
  • 91% of the victims of rape and sexual assault are female, and 9% are male.[4]
  • Across all media platforms, men receive 57% of byline and other credits, while women receive 41%.[5]
  • Mothers spend more combined time working, doing household labor, and caring for young children than fathers, but aren’t more likely to have access to workplace policies such as paid leave.[6]

[2] Gordon, A. D., & Collier-Thomas, B. (1997). African American women and the vote, 1837-1965. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.

[3] The American Association of University Women (AAUW). (n.d.). Fast Facts: The Gender Pay Gap.  Retrieved August 29, 2023, from https://www.aauw.org/resources/article/fast-facts-pay-gap.

[4] Rennison, C. A. (2002). Rape and sexual assault: Reporting to police and medical attention, 1992-2000 [NCJ 194530]. Retrieved from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics: http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/rsarp00.pdf.

[5] WMC Divided 2021: The Media Gender Gap. (July 6, 2022). New York, NY: Women’s Media Center. Retrieved August 29, 2023, from https://womensmediacenter.com/reports/wmc-divided-2021-the-media-gender-gap.

[6] Glynn, Sarah Jane. (May 18, 2018). An Unequal Division of Labor: How Equitable Workplace Policies Would Benefit Working Mothers. Washington, DC: Center for American Progress. Retrieved August 29, 2023, from https://www.americanprogress.org/article/unequal-division-labor.


What culture changes and public policies are necessary for preventing sexism?

Media inclusion of women should be equal to that of men, and should portray positive representations of women.  Gender diversity programs have been shown to reduce personal bias in the workplace and schools.[7] Policy changes should aim to close the wage gap, protect sexual and reproductive rights, and access to family leave for men and women.[8]

[7] Olsen, J. E., Parsons, C. K., Martins, L. L., & Ivanaj, V. (2016). Gender diversity programs, perceived potential for advancement, and organizational attractiveness: An empirical examination of women in the United States and France. Group & Organization Management, 41(3), 271-309.

[8] Allen, T. D., Lapierre, L. M., Spector, P. E., Poelmans, S. A., O’driscoll, M., Sanchez, J. I., … & Geurts, S. (2014). The link between national paid leave policy and work–family conflict among married working parents. Applied Psychology, 63(1), 5-28.


What practical solutions are effective for preventing sexism?

Peaceful practical solutions to prevent sexism include community spaces dedicated to women and gender non-conforming persons, intersectional awareness-building trainings, and restorative justice processes. See our Peaceful Practices Inventory for information on other possible solutions.

What can I do to prevent or stop sexism?

  • Examine and change your behavior – Examine how you think and speak about women, men, and transgender persons. Ask yourself, “would I say that if I were talking to a man?” Stop using words or phrases that are harmful to women and that do not promote equality.
  • Speak up – Call out sexist remarks and behavior, whether it be something seen or heard on TV or in-person. Use these opportunities to educate friends and family on why this is wrong and how it could have been handled correctly.
  • Practice inclusivity and accountability – Places of employment should implement inclusivity measures to achieve a gender balance. Accountability measures will help ensure that goals are met, such as a mutual reporting system or motivational rewards programs.
  • Take action – Donate to or volunteer with women’s organizations. Vote and call your elected officials to encourage them to support inclusive measures and policies.

Where can I find statistics about sexism?

For data and statistics about sexism and gender inequality, please refer to the following think tanks and research centers:

Where else might I go to learn more about sexism?

Some organizations with expertise in fighting sexism and advocating for equality are:

Information Sheet-Do Something-Sexism (PDF)

Peace Through Action USA activates and equips Americans to implement practical peaceful solutions to aggression and violence in their communities and our country. We are a charitable, civic and social capital-building organization.

Have a suggested improvement to this information sheet? Send it to inbox@peacethroughaction.org.

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