Challenging stereotypes in the workplace with a riddle

What do you think of when you hear 'doctor?'

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Think about this. If you're a woman, chances are you're making about 80 percent of what men make.

The gap will continue for another 42 years until 2059, according to an American Association of University Women study.

Whether you're a woman or man, you might not think that's fair.

So, 10News reporter Garin Flowers set out to challenge your thinking with stereotypes even you might have about men and women in the workplace.

To prove the point, 10News posed a riddle to 15 random people in downtown St. Petersburg:

"A father and son are in a horrible car crash that kills the dad. The son is rushed to the hospital. Just as he’s about to go under the knife, the surgeon says, 'I can’t operate. That boy is my son.'"

We spoke to 15 people. While there could be a couple choices for the riddle, the point is to prove a woman could also be the surgeon. Here are the some of their answers:

Editor's Note: The gender of the person is bolded followed by their answer to the riddle.

  • Man: Stepson?
  • Woman: It has to be God. 
  • Man: You really have a good angle on my confused face, I can’t figure it out.
  • Woman: I don’t know that’s crazy. Sperm donor? I don’t know.
  • Woman: The grandfather, no?

Only two people said the surgeon could be the mom.

  • Man: His mom. Everybody has opportunity and girls, men, women, colors it doesn’t matter, everyone can work.
  • Woman: people assume that surgeons are men.
  • Man: And, because it talks about male figures throughout the whole riddle.

On a different day, we spoke to 15 more people, but this time changed one word - surgeon to nurse - and this is what happened:

  • Woman: His mother.
  • Man: Has to be his mother.
  • Man: Looks like his mother.
  • Man: The wife rather.
  • Woman: The momma, right?
  • Woman: His mom.
  • Man: His mother, that’s not that hard.

Stephen Winglass and Ashley Butler work in fields mostly dominated by the opposite sex. They hope talking about it helps you realize there should be no gender assigned to any job in America.

Winglass has been a nurse for three years at Tampa General Hospital.

“Coming in, there’s always stigmas that are against you, but I feel like for the most part, it’s very warm, very accepting,” Winglass said.

Butler always liked taking things apart and putting them back together. One day she got the opportunity of a lifetime.

“A meeting at a Panera Bread standing in line turned into now a 10-year career,” Butler said.

Butler continues to navigate a heavily male-dominated field as the franchise owner of an auto shop.

“We gotta be twice as good, we gotta show up better, we just gotta have a better presentation. We can’t fumble the ball as much as our male counterparts.”

Sexism and inequality are still major issues in America. I wondered if this subconscious mindset of assigning genders to jobs adds to those issues.

"I think it’s because of our history and I think it’s the way our generations before us have grown up. Back in the day, my mother used to tell me we only had the choice of career of {a} flight attendant, teacher and nurse," said Psychologist Dr. Stacey Scheckner. "As the years have progressed, then it’s become more of, you know you would say equal opportunity, a woman’s world."

Go to the U.S. Department of Labor's website for more data and statistics for women in the workplace.

© 2017 WTSP-TV


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment