Kids aware of the exclusion of Blacks and women from US presidency

October 6th, 2008 - 2:15 pm ICT by ANI  

Barack Obama

Washington, Oct 6 (ANI): They may seem to be aloof from the whole world, but American kids are aware that there has never been a female, African-American, or Hispanic President in the United States, according to a study from The University of Texas at Austin.
The study by Rebecca Bigler, professor of psychology, and a team of researchers at the university and the University of Kansas, also cited that many of the children attributed the lack of representation to discrimination.
The study was conducted in 2006, much before Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama entered the presidential race.
In the study, 205 children of ages five to ten were interviewed about their knowledge, attitudes and beliefs about the similarities among U.S. presidents.
In three studies, children from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds answered questions about the absence of female, African-American and Hispanic presidents.
The results revealed that a majority of kids know that women and minorities have not been made a part of the U.S. presidency.
While most of the children thought that the president shall belong to all races and genders should, their answers as to why only white males have held the nation’’s highest political office were quite surprising.
One out of four kids in the study said that it was illegal for women and minorities to hold the office of president, while one in three claimed that racial and gender bias on the part of voters was to be blamed for the lack of female, African-American and Latino presidents.
Although many children said that prejudice governs how adults vote, one third of the participants said members of the excluded groups lacked the skills to hold the position.
“The U.S. presidency is a high profile case of racial and gender exclusion. And because this topic is not typically explained to children, they appear to create their own explanations for the exclusion,” said Bigler, director of the Gender and Racial Attitudes Lab at the university.
In general, kids were found to be quite optimistic about the possibility that they could become president.
But girls, who attributed the lack of female presidents to discrimination, did not think that they could hold the president’’s position.
African-American children, who identified discrimination as the reason for the lack of diversity, showed an increased interest in becoming president.
“Perhaps the increased interest in becoming president is a result of the long and well-known history of African-Amercans” struggle to achieve equality in the United States. Young girls are not as aware of the women’’s rights movements and are less likely to be knowledgeable about women’’s struggles to achieve political power,” said Bigler.
Bigler claimed that the 2008 presidential election might significantly alter children’’s view.
“If Obama loses his bid for the presidency, there may be little change in children’’s attitudes, but it could fuel their perception that American voters are racially prejudiced. In contrast, if Obama wins children may believe that exclusionary laws and racial prejudice no longer shape the outcomes of the presidential elections,” said Bigler.
The findings of the study are published in the October issue of the journal Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy. (ANI)

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