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The results of the study showed a positive relationship between the implicit gender-science stereotype of the country and the gender difference in eighth grade science TIMSS performance. Specifically, the stronger the association between male and science in a country, the larger the male advantage in science performance. In this study, implicit biases predicted TIMSS performance better than self-reported stereotypes did. Because this study was correlational, the researchers could not determine whether the weaker performance of girls in science created the implicit gender-science stereotype or whether the stronger gender stereotype led
to poorer female performance. Banaji believes, however, that it is the latter:
The degree to which the idea that girls aren’t good at science is in the air we breathe, the more likely it is to show up in patterns of attitudes, beliefs, and performance. If you look around you and only a fraction of those doing science come from group A, what are members of group A and B to think? It doesn’t take too many neurons to figure out that perhaps group A isn’t so good at science.
iMPliCiT biAS And WoMEn in STEM
Overall, the implications of this research for women in science and engineering are significant.
Implicit biases against women in science may prevent girls and women from pursuing science from the beginning, play a role in evaluations of girls’ and women’s course work in STEM subjects, influence parents’ decisions to encourage or discourage their daughters from pursuing science and engineering careers, and influence employers’ hiring decisions and evaluations of female employees.
Banaji points out that unconscious beliefs, once they are brought to the fore, can be changed if the holder of the belief so desires: “Implicit biases come from the culture. I think of them as the thumbprint of the culture on our minds. Human beings have the ability to learn to associate two things together very quickly—that is innate. What we teach ourselves, what we choose to associate is up to us.”
AAUW78r E Co M M E n d AT i o n
• R aise awareness of implicit bias.
A main purpose of the IAT is to help educate individuals about their implicit biases. Although implicit biases operate at an unconscious level and are influenced by our cultural environment, individuals can resolve to become more aware of how they make decisions and if and when their implicit biases may be at work in that process. Anyone can take the IAT at https://implicit.harvard.edu to gain a better understanding of their biases. Educators can look at the effect their biases have on their teaching, advising, and evaluation of students and can work to create an environment in the classroom that counters gender-science stereotypes. Parents can resolve to be more aware of messages they send their sons and daughters about their suitability for math and science.
People tend to view women in “masculine” fields, such as most STEM fields, as either competent or likable but not both, according to Madeline Heilman, an organizational psychologist at New York University. In 2004 Heilman and her colleagues published the results of three experiments addressing the double bind facing women in masculine fields. The researchers found that when success in a male-type job was ambiguous, a woman was rated as less competent than an identically described man, although she was rated equally likable. When individuals working in a male-type job were clearly successful, however, women and men were rated as equally competent, but women were rated as less likable and more interpersonally hostile (for example, cold, pushy, conniving). This was not found to be true in fields that were “female” or gender-neutral. Heilman and her colleagues found that both competence and likability matter in terms of advancement, but women were judged to be less competent than men were in masculine fields unless there was clear evidence of excellence, and in that case, women were judged to be less likable—a classic double bind. In a follow-up study, Heilman and Okimoto (2007) found that successful women in masculine occupations are less likely to be disliked if they are seen as possessing communal traits such as being understanding, caring, and concerned about others.
Heilman’s interest in examining how women in male-type fields can be penalized for their success was sparked when she co-authored an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in the case Price Waterhouse v. Ann B. Hopkins (American Psychological Association, 1991). Hopkins was a senior manager at Price Waterhouse when she was proposed for partnership in 1982.
After review, her nomination was neither accepted nor rejected but was held for reconsideration the following year. When the partners in her office refused to propose her for partnership again the next year, she sued Price Waterhouse for sex discrimination. Hopkins was clearly competent. She had recently secured a $25 million contract with the U.S. Department of State, and the Supreme Court noted that the judge in her initial trial stated, “[N]one of the other partnership candidates at Price Waterhouse that year had a comparable record in terms of successfully securing major contracts for the partnership” (ibid, pp. 228, 234). Yet many of Madeline Heilman is a professor of psychology at New York University. Her research focuses on sex bias in work 12 settings, the dynamics of stereotyping, and the unintended consequences of preferential selection processes. After receiving a doctorate from Columbia University, she spent eight years as a member of the faculty at the School of Organization and Management at Yale University. She serves on the boards of the Journal of Applied Psychology and Academy of Management Review.
AAUW 82 the partners at Price Waterhouse clearly disliked Ann Hopkins. One partner described her as “macho,” another suggested that she “overcompensated for being a woman,” and a third advised her to take “a course at charm school.” Several partners criticized her use of profanity, and the man who told Hopkins about the decision to place her candidacy on hold advised her to “walk more femininely, talk more femininely, dress more femininely, wear make-up, have her hair styled, and wear jewelry” (ibid., pp. 228, 234). The Hopkins case planted the seed for Heilman’s research on penalties for success for women in male-type work.
T h E d o U b l E b i n d : b E i n G Co M P E T E n T A n d W E l l l i k E d
Although being both competent and well liked are important for advancement in the workplace, this balance may be more difficult for women than men to achieve in science and engineering fields. In the first of three experiments by Heilman and her colleagues, 48 undergraduates at a large northeastern university rated the competence and likability of three employees (one man, one woman, and one “dummy” man, whose information was held constant) in a male-type job: assistant vice president for sales in an aircraft company. The dummy man was included so it would not be obvious to participants that the purpose of the experiment was to examine differences in evaluation based on gender. Participant ratings of the dummy man were not part of the analysis. Participants were recruited from an introductory psychology course in which more than 90 percent of enrollees typically reported having work experience. The participants were given packets describing the responsibilities of the job, which included training and supervising junior executives, breaking into new markets, keeping abreast of industry trends, and generating new clients. The gender-type nature of the job was communicated via the products involved, including engine assemblies, fuel tanks, and other aircraft equipment and parts.
The students were split in half, and one group was told that the men and woman were about to undergo their annual performance review, so their performance was unclear. The other group was told that the men and woman were clearly successful and had recently been designated top performers by the organization. Participants rated female and male employees equally competent when the individual’s prior success was made explicit. When information about performance was not provided, however, the woman was rated significantly less competent than the man. In terms of likability, participants were no more likely to choose the male than the female employee as more likable when performance was unclear, but when success was clear, participants overwhelmingly indicated that the man was more likable than the woman, with 19 of the 23 subjects choosing the successful man as more likable than the successful woman. Additionally, the woman was rated significantly more interpersonally
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hostile than the man when she was described as clearly successful, but the woman was rated significantly less interpersonally hostile than the man when performance was unclear (see figure 21).
In a second experiment 63 undergraduates at a large northeastern university rated the likability of successful women and men in male jobs, female jobs, and gender-neutral jobs. This time, the employee to be evaluated was the assistant vice president (AVP) of human resources;
however, the division in which the employee was said to be working differed by gender type:
the financial planning division (a male-type position), the employee assistance division (a female-type position), or the training division (a gender-neutral position). Participants were given packets describing the responsibilities of the jobs. The gender type of the positions was made clear through the job descriptions and responsibilities as well as by a section labeled “Characteristics of AVPs,” which included the sex distribution of employees in the job
In a third experiment designed to understand the career effects of being disliked, 131 participants made recommendations for salary increases and special career opportunities for female and male employees who were presented as more or less likable and more or less competent.
This time, the experiment participants were full-time workers who were age 31, on average.
Participants were provided a performance rating for an employee who had recently completed a yearlong management-training program. The rating included bar graphs indicating, on a scale from 0 to 10, the competence and likability of the individual as well as the average competence and likability of all 30 trainees. The participants evaluated the employee on a series of nine-point scales by answering questions such as, “Overall, how would you rate this individual?” (very low–very high); “How successful do you think this individual will be in this organization?” (not at all successful–very successful); and “How would you feel about working with this person as your manager?” (not pleased–pleased). Participants then answered the following questions related to special career opportunities on a nine-point scale from not at all to very much: “To what degree do you recommend placing this individual on the ‘fast track’?” and “There are five highly prestigious upper-level positions available to the recent trainees. To what degree do you recommend this individual be placed in one of these five jobs?” Last, participants were asked to indicate which of five levels of potential salary they would recommend for the employee.
The results of this study indicated that likability and competence both matter for workplace success. Across the board, participants rated employees who were reported to be likable more favorably than those who were reported to be not likable. Competent employees were more highly recommended for special opportunities than were less competent employees, and likable employees, when competent, were more highly recommended for special opportunities than were less likable employees. Competent employees were recommended for a higher salary than were less competent employees, and likable employees, whether competent or not, were recommended for a higher salary than were less likable employees. These results suggest that being disliked can have detrimental effects in work settings. The most critical point from this research is that “whereas there are many things that lead an individual to be disliked, including obnoxious behavior, arrogance, stubbornness, and pettiness, it is only women, not men, for whom a unique propensity toward dislike is created by success in a nontraditional work situation” (Heilman et al., 2004, pp. 425–426). This suggests that success can create an additional