It is an oxymoron for the concept of Feminism to coexist with that of the title, ie “Women vs. Women”. But, is it a reality? Are we so “regulated” that there is (mainly) the second meaning deeply rooted within us? Is it a social construct? So what happens? Why can feminist (or not) women find it relatively easy to criticize or curse other women? Is it out of jealousy? Is it out of envy?

It all starts in childhood (as a psychologist would say). When toys for boys and toys for girls were completely different. The boys were given cars, DIY sets, while the girls were given baby dolls, Barbie. They teach us indirectly how to evolve (as housewives, always well-groomed, stylish, etc.).

But one element that exists in the brain of both women and men is unconscious bias. In other words, these are attachments to the brain based on the stimuli we have from a young age. A brief and proximate definition is: “Unconscious prejudice is prejudice or unsupported judgments for or against one thing, person or group compared to another, in a way that is usually considered unfair.”

Over the centuries, patriarchal society has instilled in us an unconscious prejudice and does not give us the proper tools and stimuli to tear it from within us. Psychologists and Nobel laureates Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman have suggested that these prejudices affect the way people think and the judgments they make. As a result of these limitations, we are forced to rely on mental shortcuts to help us understand the world. Thus from an early age we associate concepts such as “leader” and “success” with the man and concepts such as “household” and “family” with the woman.

In a Harvard University study called the “Implicit Association Test”, its creator, Professor Mahzarin Banaji, concluded that she herself could not associate women with leadership. She states that “my mind and my hands could not connect the woman with the leadership, as well as the man with the leadership”. This test is a measure of how strong our heuristics are, says Banaji. “It proves that a imprint of culture has remained in our brains.”

               The solution to this problem (mental shortcuts), according to Mahzarin Banaji, is to consciously understand when this filter is activated within us when we evaluate something.

According to a recent UN survey based on the Gender Social Norms Index (= Gender Standards), on politics and education among 75 countries, the results show that almost 90% of women (but also men) have prejudices against other women. A significant percentage of 30% -35% answered that it is acceptable for a man to hit his partner. While 50% of men answered that they have a greater right to get a job than a woman.         

It may be considered that we are getting out of the subject, but I do not consider that to be the case as the above numbers go deeper and deeper into our subconscious. As long as minds do not change, unfortunately, we can not talk about gender equality. And as long as minds do not change we will never see each other for the woman that she really is, but we will be evaluated based on stereotypes.

UNDP calls on governments and institutions to use a new generation of policies to change these discriminatory beliefs and practices through education and awareness-raising and motivation. For example, by using taxes to motivate a fair distribution of childcare responsibilities or by encouraging women and girls to enter traditionally male-dominated sectors such as the armed forces and information technology

UNDP Deputy Director for Gender says: “We must act now to overcome the barrier of bias and prejudice if we want to see progress at the pace and scale required to achieve gender equality and the vision that has been set  in the Beijing Declaration two decades ago and the Sustainable Development Goals “.

I also think it is very important to see women succeed in male-dominated sectors. One of them is politics. There, we observe that only 24 women are active leaders of states (one of them is the President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Skellaropoulou), among 195 states[i].

So maybe it’s time for one woman to recognize and admire another woman based on objective criteria and not on what she has learned so far from a patriarchal society. Do we need to shake off toxic prejudices and start looking at each other for what they really are?

[i] This number is calculated according to the recognized UN states. According to other models, the number goes up to 249. Indicatively, I mention that 206 countries are competing in the Olympic Games, while 211 are competing for the FIFA world cup.