Prejudice against Women in Male-congenial Environments: Perceptions of Gender Role Congruity in Leadership

Abstract

Some authors assert that there is a feminine advantage in leadership, even though female leaders are often targets of prejudice. Our experiment tested how people’s expectations affect this prejudice in different work environments. Participants evaluated a male or a female candidate for a leadership position in an industry that was congruent or incongruent with the candidate’s gender role. Participants showed prejudice against the female candidate, especially when she worked in an industry incongruent with her gender role. Female and older participants showed more prejudice against the female leader than did male and younger participants. These results invoke role congruity theory (Eagly & Karau, Role congruity theory of prejudice toward female leaders. Psychological Review, 109, 573–598, 2002).

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Acknowledgments

We are deeply indebted to Alice H. Eagly for her helpful discussion of the results and comments on previous drafts of this article. We also thank her for her intellectual encouragement. We gratefully acknowledge two anonymous reviewers for their useful comments and Anita Todd and Donna Alexander for editing the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Rocio Garcia-Retamero or Esther López-Zafra.

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Garcia-Retamero, R., López-Zafra, E. Prejudice against Women in Male-congenial Environments: Perceptions of Gender Role Congruity in Leadership. Sex Roles 55, 51–61 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-006-9068-1

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Keywords

  • Causal attributions
  • Gender
  • Gender identity
  • Leadership
  • Prejudice
  • Role congruity
  • Sex
  • Transformational leadership
  • Women