Media Releases

UofT research suggests female minorities are more affected by racism than sexism

July 11, 2011

TORONTO, ON – Stud­ies by the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toronto’s psy­chol­o­gy depart­ment sug­gest that racism may impact some female minor­i­ty groups more deeply than sex­ism.

“We found that Asian women take racism more per­son­al­ly and find it more depress­ing than sex­ism,” said lead author and doc­tor­al stu­dent Jes­si­ca Reme­dios.

“In order to under­stand the con­se­quences for peo­ple who encounter prej­u­dice, we must con­sid­er the type of prej­u­dice they are fac­ing,” says Reme­dios.

In one study, 66 par­tic­i­pants of Chi­nese, Kore­an, Viet­namese, Tai­wanese and Japan­ese descent were assigned one of three hypo­thet­i­cal sit­u­a­tions. They were all told to imag­ine they were try­ing to get per­mis­sion to enrol in a course but the pro­fes­sor’s rea­sons for their denial were dif­fer­ent.

For exam­ple, in one sit­u­a­tion a Chi­nese stu­dent would be reject­ed from a course only to learn from a friend that no Chi­nese stu­dents were admit­ted but 10 white peo­ple were.

There were also par­tic­i­pants who were told the pro­fes­sor did­n’t let any women into the course and some sub­jects were per­son­al­ly reject­ed by being told the “pro­fes­sor thought they were stu­pid.”

The sec­ond study was intend­ed to study more per­son­al reac­tions to prej­u­dice. Six­ty par­tic­i­pants of Chi­nese, Kore­an, Viet­namese and Fil­ipino descent were assigned to write about a past expe­ri­ence of rejec­tion because of racism, sex­ism or their per­son­al­i­ties. They then were asked to rate their emo­tion­al respons­es on a scale of one to sev­en. Accord­ing to Reme­dios, the women assigned to con­tem­plate racism were more like­ly than those assigned to con­tem­plate sex­ism to believe that they had been reject­ed by oth­ers because of ‘some­thing about them’ or because of ‘who they are.’

“This sug­gests that to these women, racism feels like a per­son­al rejec­tion where­as sex­ism feels more like the result of oth­ers’ igno­rance,” says Reme­dios.

The research was pub­lished in a paper enti­tled “Not all prej­u­dices are expe­ri­enced equal­ly: Com­par­ing expe­ri­ences of racism and sex­ism in female minori­ties” co-writ­ten with UofT psy­chol­o­gist Ali­son Chas­teen and recent Hon­ours Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence grad Jef­frey Paek. It appeared in the Group Process­es and Inter­group Rela­tions jour­nal on June 17.


Media con­tacts:

Jes­si­ca Reme­dios
Doc­tor­al stu­dent
Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to

Jes­si­ca Lewis
Fac­ul­ty of Arts and Sci­ence
Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to