The Role of Personal Experience in Overcoming Gender Stereotypes
Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)
IACM 23rd Annual Conference Paper
This paper explores how personal experience can affect perceptions of the magnitude and self-relevance of domain-specific gender stereotypes. I experimentally manipulate the difficulty of a female-stereotyped domain encounter (childcare) and a male-stereotyped domain encounter (sports) to lead participants to experience either high or low success. I then measure how these different experiences of success affect women’s and men’s expectations of their own and others’ competence. The results indicate that, compared to a stereotype-affirming experience, a counter-stereotypical experience (high success in a domain stereotyped to favor the other gender, or low success in a domain stereotyped to favor one’s own gender) leads participants to view themselves as exceptions to the stereotype: they perceive their own performance to be closer to that of the opposite gender and farther from their own gender. In addition, when the counter-stereotypical experience is positive (high success), the perceived magnitude of the stereotype is reduced in that participants expect the difference between women’s and men’s performances to be smaller than participants who have a stereotype-affirming experience in the same domain. Thus, a counter-stereotypical positive personal experience helps reduce the stereotype.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 31working papers series
Date posted: May 20, 2010
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