White Knighting: How Help Reinforces Gender Differences Between Men and Women
Forthcoming, Sex Roles DOI/10.1007/s11199-019-01018-y
54 Pages Posted: 20 Feb 2019
Date Written: February 7, 2019
Individuals often prize helping behaviors in the workplace, but these behaviors can potentially be harmful to those who receive help. Two online experiments were conducted to determine whether dependency-oriented help, which consists of solving a problem for the beneficiary (Nadler, 2002), has negative consequences for female beneficiaries and positive consequences for male helpers (Studies 1 and 2: 100 and 203 U.S. MTurk respondents respectively). I found that observers perceived women who received dependency-oriented help from men as being lower in status (Study 2), competence (Studies 1 and 2), and promotability (Studies 1 and 2) than women who received autonomy-oriented help from men. Contrary to expectations, observers’ endorsement of benevolent sexism moderated these effects such that their evaluations of female beneficiaries of dependency-oriented help was more negative the less they endorsed benevolent sexism (Studies 1 and 2). Finally, observers evaluated helpers who gave dependency-oriented help as lower in status and competence than helpers who give autonomy-oriented help (Study 2). Overall, the present findings suggest ways in which helping behaviors can have harmful effects on both helpers and beneficiaries of help in the workplace.
Keywords: Benevolent Sexism, Gender Stereotypes, Helping Behaviors, Online Experiments
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation