Quite often people ascribe certain characteristics to individuals based on their age, gender, race, religious affiliations, and other such group “memberships” without knowing anything else about them. When such people do these things, they are stereotyping: They are seeing individuals not for who they are, but to which categories they belong and how they believe those groups of people behave. Often how a person is stereotyped does not present an accurate picture of that individual. Being stereotyped can be unfair and hurtful to those so affected. One incident of my being negatively stereotyped on the basis of my gender was when I was in the market for a mobile home. When I went to a dealer to pursue this matter, I realized that nobody seemed very interested in helping me. However, after some time a salesperson approached me and asked if my husband would be joining me. When I said, “no,” I was asked if he was completely in favor of this purchase. I informed the salesperson that I was not married and was prepared and able to make such a purchase on my own. The showing of the various showroom models and the accompanying sales pitch did not occur. I was not taken seriously because I was a single female. The result of the dealership’s negative stereotyping of me was that not only was I very hurt and angry, but they also suffered because they lost a potential sale.
The best way for people who stereotype to overcome this is to help them to see that not only is everyone whom they view negatively due to their affiliation with a certain group representative of that category anymore than all positively viewed individuals mirror their
membership.. Some men may be chronically unemployed, while some women are surgeons!