In this chapter, we give a micro-level, social psychological account of how the gender beliefs evoked by sex categorization reinforce and recreate gender inequality. We argue that social interactions are framed by gender because people instantaneously and unconsciously sex categorize each other, evoking cultural beliefs about men and women. While these cultural beliefs help actors navigate social interaction, using gender as a primary frame for making sense of others brings cultural understandings of gender into all social interactions. This causes men to have more status and influence in small, goal-oriented groups, thereby advantaging them and recreating existing gender inequality in settings that vary from the workplace to the home. Because of our reliance on gender as a primary frame for understanding others, cultural beliefs about gender are rewritten on to new activities, causing gender inequality to persist in the face of societal change. Despite the increasing number of social interactions that occur online and mounting challenges to the gender binary, we argue that these processes will continue in the future unless conscious effort is made to disrupt them. We conclude with suggestions on how future research can illuminate tools to interrupt the effects of the gender frame.
- Gender beliefs
- Sex categorization
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
However, it is important to note that there may be some intersectional exceptions to this under very specific circumstances.
Allum, J. R., & Okahana, H. (2015). Graduate enrollment and degrees: 2004 to 2014. Washington, DC: Council of Graduate Schools. http://cgsnet.org/ckfinder/userfiles/files/E_and_D_2014_report_final.pdf. Accessed January 16, 2017.
Amanatullah, E. T., & Morris, M. W. (2010). Negotiating gender roles: Gender differences in assertive negotiating are mediated by women’s fear of backlash and attenuated when negotiating on behalf of others. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 98, 256–267.
American Civil Liberties Union. (2017). Non-discrimination laws: State by state information. https://www.aclu.org/map/non-discrimination-laws-state-state-information-map. Accessed January 16, 2017.
Anderson, C., & Willer, R. (2014). Do status hierarchies benefit groups? A bounded functionalist account of status. In J. T. Cheng, J. L. Tracy, & Cameron Anderson (Eds.), The psychology of social status (pp. 47–70). New York: Springer.
Anti Violence Project. (2013). Hate violence against transgender communities. http://www.avp.org/storage/documents/ncavp_transhvfactsheet.pdf. Accessed January 17, 2017.
Berger, J., & Webster, M., Jr. (2006). Expectations, status, and behavior. In P. J. Burke (Ed.), Contemporary social psychological theories (pp. 268–300). Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Bianchi, S. M., Sayer, L. C., Milkie, M. A., & Robinson, J. P. (2012). Housework: Who did, does or will do it, and how much does it matter? Social Forces, 91, 55–63.
Blair, I. V., & Banaji, M. R. (1996). Automatic and controlled processes in stereotype priming. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70, 1142–1163.
Boring, A., Ottoboni, K., & Stark, P. B. (2016). Student evaluations of teaching (mostly) do not measure teaching effectiveness. Science Open. http://dx.doi.org/10.14293/S2199-1006.1.SOR-EDU.AETBZC.v1.
Brewer, M. B., & Lui, L. N. (1989). The primacy of age and sex in the structure of person categories. Social Cognition, 7, 262–274.
Bursztyn, L., Fujiwara, T., & Pallais, A. (2017). ‘Acting wife’: Marriage market incentives and labor market investments. NBER Working Paper No. 23043. http://www.nber.org/papers/w23043. Accessed January 16, 2017.
Cech, E. A. (2013). The self-expressive edge of occupational sex segregation. American Journal of Sociology, 119, 747–789.
Cejka, M. A., & Eagly, A. H. (1999). Gender-stereotypic images of occupations correspond to the sex segregation of employment. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 25, 413–423.
Charles, M., & Grusky, D. (2004). Occupational ghettos: The worldwide segregation of women and men. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Chwe, M. S. (2001). Rational ritual: Culture, coordination, and common knowledge. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Correll, S. J. (2001). Gender and the career choice process: The role of biased self-assessments. American Journal of Sociology, 106, 1691–1730.
Correll, S. J. (2004). Constraints into preferences: Gender, status, and emerging career aspirations. American Sociological Review, 69, 93–113.
Cuddy, A. J., Fiske, S. T., & Click, P. (2007). The BIAS map: Behaviors from Intergroup affect and stereotypes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92, 631–648.
Dahl, G. B., Løken, K. V., & Mogstad, M. (2014). Peer effects in program participation. American Economic Review, 104, 2049–2074.
Diekman, A. B., & Eagly, A. H. (2000). Stereotypes as dynamic constructs: Women and men of the past, present, and future. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 26, 1171–1188.
Dwyer, R. (2013). The care economy? Gender, economic restructuring, and job polarization in the U. S. labor market. American Sociological Review, 78, 390–416.
Eagly, A. H., & Carli, L. L. (2007). Through the labyrinth: The truth about how women become leaders. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.
England, P. (2010). The gender revolution: Uneven and stalled. Gender & Society, 24, 149–166.
England, P., Budig, M., & Folbre, N. (2002). Wages of virtue: The relative pay of care work. Social Problems, 49, 455–473.
Espenshade, T. J., & Radford, A. W. (2009). No longer separate, not yet equal: Race and class in elite college admission and campus life. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Fiske, S. T., Cuddy, A. J., Glick, P., & Xu, J. (2002). A model of (often mixed) stereotype content: Competence and warmth respectively follow from perceived status and competition. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82, 878–902.
Fiske, S. T., Lin, M., & Neuberg, S. (1999). The continuum model: Ten years later. In S. Chaiken & Y. Trope (Eds.), Dual process theories in social psychology (pp. 231–254). New York: Guilford.
Fogarty, A. C. K. (2015). Gender ambiguity in the workplace: Trans and genderqueer discrimination (Ph.D. dissertation). Stanford University, Stanford.
Galinksy, A., Hall, E. V., & Cuddy, A. (2013). Gendered races: Implications for interracial marriage, leadership selection, and athletic participation. Psychological Science, 24, 498–506.
Gee, B., Peck, D., & Wong, J. (2015). Hidden in plain sight: Asian American leaders in Silicon Valley. Charleston, SC: The Ascend Foundation. http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/ascendleadership.site-ym.com/resource/resmgr/Research/HiddenInPlainSight_Paper_042.pdf. Accessed February 28, 2017.
Glick, P., Lameiras, M., Fiske, S. T., Eckes, T., Masser, B., Volpato, C., et al. (2004). Bad but bold: Ambivalent attitudes toward men predict gender inequality in 16 nations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 86, 713–728.
Hall, E., Galinsky, A., & Phillips, K. (2015). Gender profiling: A gendered race perspective on person-position fit. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 41, 853–868.
Harkness, S. K. (2016). Discrimination in lending markets: Status and the intersections of gender and race. Social Psychology Quarterly, 79, 81–93.
Hegewisch, A., & Hartmann, H. (2014). Occupational segregation and the gender wage gap: A job half done. Washington, DC: Institute for Women’s Policy Research. http://www.iwpr.org/publications/pubs/occupational-segregation-and-the-gender-wage-gap-a-job-half-done. Accessed January 16, 2017.
Hogg, M. A. (2003). Intergroup relations. In J. D. DeLamater (Ed.), Handbook of social psychology (pp. 479–502). New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers.
Huber, J. (2007). On the origins of gender inequality. Boulder: Paradigm Publishers.
Human Rights Campaign. (2017). Workplace discrimination laws and policies. http://www.hrc.org/resources/Workplace-Discrimination-Policies-Laws-and-Legislation. Accessed January 16, 2017.
Ito, T. A., & Urland, G. R. (2003). Race and gender on the brain: Electrocortical measures of attention to the race and gender of multiply categorizable individuals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85, 616–626.
Jiminéz, T. R., & Horowitz, A. L. (2013). When white is just alright: How immigrants redefine achievement and reconfigure the ethnoracial hierarchy. American Sociological Review, 78, 849–871.
Kricheli-Katz, T., & Regev, T. (2016). How many cents on the dollar? Women and men in product markets. Science Advances, 2(2), e1500599.
Kunda, Z., & Spencer, S. J. (2003). When do stereotypes come to mind and when do they color judgment? A goal-based theoretical framework for stereotype activation and application. Psychological Bulletin, 129, 522–554.
Leslie, S., Cimpian, A., Meyer, M., & Freeland, E. (2015). Expectations of brilliance underlie gender distributions across academic disciplines. Science, 347, 262–265.
Levanon, A., England, P., & Allison, P. (2009). Occupational feminization and pay: Assessing causal dynamics using 1950–2000 U.S. census data. Social Forces, 88, 865–891.
Lin, M. H., Kwan, V. S. Y., Cheung, A., & Fiske, S. T. (2005). Stereotype content model explains prejudice for an envied outgroup: Scale of anti-Asian American stereotypes. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 31, 34–47.
Linza, N., & Neljesjö, C. (2012, November 30). M/M interview with Kent Bergsma. Manner of Man Magazine. http://mannerofman.blogspot.com/2012/11/mm-interview-with-kent-bergsma.html. Accessed January 16, 2017.
Livingston, R. W., Rosette, A. S., & Washington, E. F. (2012). Can an agentic black woman get ahead? The impact of race and interpersonal dominance on perceptions of female leaders. Psychological Science, 23, 354–358.
Lopez, M. H., & Gonzalez-Barrera, A. (2014). Women’s college enrollment gains leave men behind. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/03/06/womens-college-enrollment-gains-leave-men-behind/. Accessed January 16, 2017.
Magee, J. C., & Galinsky, A. D. (2008). Social hierarchy: The self-reinforcing nature of power and status. The Academy of Management Annals, 2, 351–398.
McBee, T. P. (2015, October 29). Caitlyn Jenner, trans champion: “Maybe this is why God put me on earth”. Glamour. http://www.glamour.com/story/caitlyn-jenner. Accessed January 16, 2017.
Milkie, M. A. (1999). Social comparisons, reflected appraisals, and mass media: The impact of pervasive beauty images on black and white girls’ self-concepts. Social Psychology Quarterly, 62, 190–210.
Moss-Racusin, C. A., Dovidio, J. F., Brescoll, V. L., Graham, M. J., & Handelsman, J. (2012). Science faculty’s subtle gender biases favor male students. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109, 16474–16479.
National Center for Education Statistics. (2017). Fast facts. https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=27. Accessed January 16, 2017.
Newman, G. (2016, April 13). Why my videogame chooses your character’s race and gender for you. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/apr/13/videogame-chooses-character-race-gender-rust. Accessed January 16, 2017.
Pager, D. (2007). Marked: Race, crime, and finding work in an era of mass incarceration. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Perrin, A. (2015). Social media usage: 2005–2015. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center. http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/10/08/social-networking-usage-2005-2015/. Accessed January 16, 2017.
Powell, G. N., Butterfield, D. A., & Parent, J. D. (2002). Gender and managerial stereotypes: Have the times changed? Journal of Management, 28, 177–193.
Prentice, D. A., & Carranza, E. (2002). What women and men should be, shouldn’t be, are allowed to be, and don’t have to be: The contents of prescriptive gender stereotypes. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 26, 269–281.
Rashotte, L. S., & Webster, M. (2005). Gender status beliefs. Social Science Research, 34, 618–633.
Reuben, E., Sapienza, P., & Zingales, L. (2014). How stereotypes impair women’s careers in science. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111, 4403–4408.
Ridgeway, C. L. (2011). Framed by gender: How gender inequality persists in the modern world. New York: Oxford University Press.
Ridgeway, C. L., Boyle, E. H., Kuipers, K., & Robinson, D. T. (1998). How do status beliefs develop? The role of resources and interactional experience. American Sociological Review, 63, 331–350.
Ridgeway, C. L., & Correll, S. J. (2004). Unpacking the gender system: A theoretical perspective on cultural beliefs and social relations. Gender and Society, 18, 510–531.
Ridgeway, C. L., & Fisk, S. R. (2012). Class rules, status dynamics, and “gateway” interactions. In S. T. Fiske & H. R. Markus (Eds.), Facing social class: How societal rank influences interaction (pp. 131–151). New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
Ridgeway, C. L., & Kricheli-Katz, T. (2013). Intersecting cultural beliefs in social relations: Gender, race, and class binds and freedoms. Gender and Society, 27, 294–318.
Ridgeway, C. L., & Nakagawa, S. (2014). Status. In J. D. McLeod, E. J. Lawler, & M. Schwalbe (Eds.), Handbook of the social psychology of inequality (pp. 3–25). New York: Springer.
Rinallo, D. (2011). Metro/fashion/tribes of men: Negotiating the boundaries of men’s legitimate consumption. In B. Cova, R. Kozinets, & A. Shankar (Eds.), Consumer tribes (pp. 76–92). New York: Routledge.
Risman, B. J. (2004). Gender as a social structure: Theory wrestling with activism. Gender & Society, 18, 429–450.
Rudman, L. A., Moss-Racusin, C. A., Phelan, J. E., & Nauts, S. (2012). Status incongruity and backlash effects: Defending the gender hierarchy motivates prejudice against female leaders. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 48, 165–179.
Schneider, D. J. (2004). The psychology of stereotyping. New York: Guilford Press.
Schilt, K. (2010). Just one of the guys? Transgender men and the persistence of gender inequality. Chicago: Chicago University Press.
Spence, J. T., & Buckner, C. E. (2000). Instrumental and expressive traits, trait stereotypes, and sexist attitudes: What do they signify? Psychology of Women Quarterly, 24, 44–62.
Stangor, C., Lynch, L., Duan, C., & Glass, B. (1992). Categorization of individuals on the basis of multiple social features. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 62, 207–218.
Stryker, S., & Vryan, K. D. (2003). The symbolic interactionist frame. In J. DeLamater (Ed.), The handbook of social psychology (pp. 3–28). New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers.
Tajfel, H., & Turner, J. C. (1986). The social identity theory of intergroup behavior. In S. Worchel & W. G. Austin (Eds.), Psychology of intergroup relations (pp. 7–24). Chicago: Nelson-Hall.
Trytten, D. A., Lowe, A. W., & Walden, S. E. (2012). “Asians are good at math. What an awful stereotype”: The model minority stereotype’s impact on Asian American engineering students. Journal of Engineering Education, 101, 439–468.
Twenge, J. M. (2001). Changes in women’s assertiveness in response to status and roles: A cross-temporal meta-analysis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81, 133–145.
Wagner, D. G., & Berger, J. (1997). Gender and interpersonal task behaviors: Status expectation accounts. Sociological Perspectives, 40, 1–32.
Walker, L. S., Doerer, S., & Webster, M. (2014). Status, participation, and influence in task groups. Sociological Perspectives, 57, 364–381.
West, C., & Zimmerman, D. H. (1987). Doing gender. Gender and Society, 1, 125–151.
We would like to thank Jon Overton for his diligent and thorough work as a research assistant.
Editors and Affiliations
Rights and permissions
© 2018 Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature
About this chapter
Cite this chapter
Fisk, S.R., Ridgeway, C.L. (2018). Framing Gender. In: Risman, B., Froyum, C., Scarborough, W. (eds) Handbook of the Sociology of Gender. Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-76333-0_12
Publisher Name: Springer, Cham
Print ISBN: 978-3-319-76332-3
Online ISBN: 978-3-319-76333-0
eBook Packages: Social SciencesSocial Sciences (R0)