Implicit vs. Explicit Barriers to Atypical Behavior

Project Details


Women who move into traditionally male-dominated jobs must often work to counteract gender stereotypes regarding their qualifications (e.g., their competence, ambition, and leadership ability). One strategy for doing so is self-promotion. Previous research has shown that female self-promotion does lead to higher ratings of competence. However, such self-promotion also elicits a backlash effect in the form of lower ratings of likability and hireability. As a result, highly qualified women are rejected because of social factors. For men, self-promotion carries no such risks. This double standard for self-promotion represents a dilemma in which women may be discriminated against for normative behavior (i.e., for acting `as a woman`) and discriminated against for counternormative behavior (i.e., for not acting `as a woman should`). If the workplace values masculine behaviors but suppresses them in women, this constitutes a distinct form of sex discrimination, with implications for women's economic and psychological well-being. The current research will use both self-report and response time measures to investigate potential mediators of the backlash effect, including traditional gender beliefs. The research will also examine moderators of the effect (conditions designed to exacerbate and relieve it). By examining these variables, the research will provide insight into a social psychological barrier that prevents women from fully realizing equal opportunities in performance settings. Thus, the research is designed to contribute to the goals of NSF's Human Capital Initiative.

Effective start/end date9/1/988/31/99


  • National Science Foundation: $39,302.00


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