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Gender discrimination, also known as sexism, refers to prejudice or discrimination based on sex and/or gender, as well as conditions or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on gender. Sexist mindsets are frequently based on beliefs in traditional stereotypes of gender roles, and is thus built into many societal institutions.
Gender stereotypes are widely held beliefs about the characteristics and behavior of women and men. Many of the stereotypes that result in gender discrimination are not only descriptive, but also prescriptive beliefs about how men and women "should" behave. For example, women who are considered to be too assertive or men who lack physical strength are often criticized and historically faced societal backlash. They can also facilitate or impede intellectual performance, such as the stereotype threat that lower women's performance on mathematics tests, due to the stereotype that women have inferior quantitative skills compared to men's, or when the same stereotype leads men to assess their own task ability higher than women performing at the same level.
There are several prominent ways in which gender discrimination continues to play a role in modern society. Occupational sexism refers to discriminatory practices, statements, and/or actions based on a person's gender which occur in a place of employment. Wage discrimination, the "glass ceiling" (in which gender is perceived to be a barrier to professional advancement), and sexual harassment in the workplace are all examples of occupational sexism. Violence against women, including sexual assault, domestic violence, and sexual slavery, remains a serious problem around the world. Many also argue that the objectification of women, such as in pornography, also constitutes a form of gender discrimination.