European Journal of Psychology of Education

, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 191–205 | Cite as

The effects of solo status on women’s and men’s success: The moderating role of the performance context

  • Marie-Laure ViallonEmail author
  • Delphine Martinot


A considerable body of research has shown that being the only representative of one’s gender group (solo status) when performing an activity affects women more than men. The aim of our two experiments was to show that the performance context can moderate the effects of numerical status (majority vs. solo) on performance and that men can also be disadvantaged by solo status. Our proposal is that a groupwork context which makes the “leader” stereotype more salient will be more beneficial to men while an intergender comparison context in a typically feminine thematic field will tend to favor women. To test this hypothesis, the numerical status of the women and men was manipulated while they were performing a task presented as a human and social sciences test in either a groupwork or intergender comparison context. As expected, the solo women were less successful in the groupwork context than in the intergender comparison context (Experiment 1) whereas the solo men were less successful in the intergender comparison context than in the groupwork context (Experiment 2). The role of the performance context and the gender stereotypes that it foregrounds seems to be a key factor in the effects of solo status on performance.

Key words

Gender stereotypes Performance Performance context Solo status 


De nombreuses recherches montrent qu’être le seul représentant de son groupe de sexe (statut solo) lors d’une performance affecte plus les filles que les garçons. Le but de nos deux expériences est de montrer que le contexte de performance peut modérer les effets d’un statut numérique (majoritaire vs solo) sur les performances. Nous suggérons qu’un contexte de travail en groupe susceptible de rendre saillant le stéréotype de «leader” sera plus favorable aux garçons et qu’un contexte de comparaison intersexe sur un domaine typiquement féminin sera plus favorable aux filles. Pour tester cette hypothèse, le statut numérique des filles et des garçons était manipulé alors qu’ils réalisaient un supposé test en sciences humaines et sociales dans un contexte de travail en groupe ou de comparaison intersexe. Comme attendu, les filles en statut solo réussissaient moins bien que les garçons dans le contexte de travail en groupe alors qu’elles réussissaient aussi bien que les garçons dans le contexte de comparaison intersexe (Expérience 1). Lorsqu ’ils occupaient un statut solo, les garçons réussissaient mieux dans le contexte de travail en groupe que dans le contexte de comparaison intersexe (Expérience 2). Le rôle du contexte de performance dans les études est discuté.


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Copyright information

© Instituto Superior de Psicologia Aplicada, Lisbon, Portugal/ Springer Netherlands 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratoire de Psychologie Sociale et Cognitive, UMR CNRS 6024Université Blaise PascalClermont-FerrandFrance

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