Collective and individual consequences of gender stereotype
Amanda Haraldsson (1) and Iris Meinderts (2)
(1) European University Institute; (2) KU Leuven
Despite recent research suggesting gender stereotypes are changing, stereotypes about both men and women persist in society. Such stereotypes can have a wide variety of consequences at the individual as well as at the collective level. In this symposium, we will address some of these consequences in four presentations (15 minute presentation and 5 minute discussion time each). The first presentation examines the impact of exposure to media discrimination on the political ambition of men and women. The second presentation will concern itself with belonging comparisons between STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) domains and how these can explain high school girls’ variability in STEM interest. The third presentation will focus on how being faced with stereotyping can make people uncertain about how they are evaluated in specific situations, which can lead to fluctuations in their self-knowledge and self-esteem. The last presentation will explore the collective consequences of holding genetic essentialist beliefs about male sexuality such as that men are more driven by sexual desire than women.
Speaker 1: Effect of media discrimination on men and women’s political ambition
Amanda Haraldsson (1)
(1) European University Institute
Very little research has considered how media discrimination could impact men and women’s political ambition, rather than voter demand for women in politics. This talk will present a theoretical framework that highlights how media discrimination (which under-reports on women in politics and uses traditional and stereotypical depictions of men and women) can lead to both implicit and explicit processes, which can both positively or negatively impact men and women’s political ambition. Specifically, benevolent media discrimination is argued to contribute to gendered socialisation, which, through implicit processes that strengthen gender role adherence, lower women’s political ambition while sustaining men’s high political ambition. Hostile media discrimination instead is argued to lead to explicit processes, which can reduce men’s political ambition through a dampening effect of seeing politics as a negative domain. Hostile media discrimination is argued to have the potential to both increase and decrease women’s political ambition. It can be seen as a signal of women’s low status, leading to dis-identification with politics as a self-protection strategy. On the other hand, it can be seen as a signal of injustice against women, leading to feeling challenged to enter politics as a collective-action strategy. To illustrate some aspects of this theory, selected findings of a lab experiment are pointed to. Both the theory and the lab experiment suggest that further exploration of how media discrimination relates to the supply-side of women’s political underrepresentation is needed, as well as how factors such as gender identification and rejection sensitivity can interact with media discrimination.
Speaker 2: Belonging comparisons between STEM domains explain high school girls’ variability in STEM interest
Jenny Veldman (1,2), Colette Van Laar (1), Dustin Thoman (3) and Carolien Van Soom (1)
(1) KU Leuven; (2) PhD Fellow of the Research Foundation – Flanders; (3) San Diego State University, USA
In trying to understand women’s underrepresentation in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), most research to date focuses on one STEM domain or collapses across all of STEM. However, these domains differ vastly in terms of female representation: women are strongly underrepresented in technological and computer science university majors and to a lesser extent in mathematics and chemistry, while they are not as much underrepresented in biological science majors. Drawing upon Dimensional Comparison Theory, we argue that to understand this variability it is key to examine how girls in the process of making higher education choices compare different STEM domains to each other. Previous work suggests that educational decisions involve such intra-individual comparisons of achievement in different subjects. However, we know that social belongingness in a STEM domain plays a key role in interest in pursuing that domain. Therefore, we examined comparisons of social belongingness in different STEM domains. A sample of 259 fifth-year high school girls in STEM-focused preparatory university tracks completed a survey on their social belongingness and interest in pursuing different STEM majors. Latent Profile Analyses resulted in 3 profiles and these profiles showed different patterns of social belongingness across STEM domains. Additionally, the belonging comparisons between STEM domains within a profile mapped onto comparisons of interest in the different STEM domains. These findings indicate that belonging comparisons between STEM domains occur and can help explain variability in interest. Examining such comparisons can help explain what pushes girls away from certain STEM domains and pulls them towards others.
Speaker 3: Evaluation uncertainty in response to stereotyping and fluctuations in self-knowledge and self-esteem
Iris Meinderts (1), Jenny Veldman (1) and Colette Van Laar (1)
(1) KU Leuven
Members from stigmatized groups continue to be underrepresented in various fields (e.g., women in STEM fields). This project focuses on the barriers that stigmatized individuals face in their ability to adequately pursue upward mobility. While engaging in upward mobility behaviors (e.g., applying for a job or promotion), having a well-defined and accurate understanding of one’s capabilities is crucial. However, there is some evidence that members from stigmatized groups who more readily perceive and/or expect to be stereotyped have less accurate and less stable insights into their capabilities in stereotype-related domains. More evidence as to this finding and its underlying processes is needed. In this experiment, we focus on one underlying process that could explain how experiencing stereotyping can lead to a more unstable self-concept: uncertainty about how one is evaluated in feedback situations. Previous research has established that members of stigmatized groups can in some situations experience a state of uncertainty as to whether the evaluation they received was caused by personal deservingness or the stereotypes that the evaluator had against their group. In the larger project too then, we examine if uncertainty about how one is evaluated can interfere with individual’s ability to develop clear and stable insight into their capabilities, and if this can spillover to other work/mobility-related areas.
Speaker 4: Do genetic essentialist beliefs about male sexuality increase victim blame among women?
De Wilde (1), Brison (1), Casini (1) and Demoulin (1)
Popular media are overwhelmed with scientific information highlighting the existence of a link between specific genetic compositions and different human characteristics. A growing number of scholars (e.g. Coleman & Hong, 2008; Dar-Nimrod & Heine, 2006; Heine et al., 2017) are wondering how people actually make sense of this new era of genomics. Many studies have shown that information related to genetic causes is treated irrationally because people tend to overrate their role (for reviews, see Dar-Nimrod & Heine, 2011; Heine, 2017). The current study focuses on the shared belief that male sex drive is due to genetic factors. Since these genetic factors could appear to deprive men of control over their sexuality, we hypothesize that the endorsement of essentialist genetic beliefs about male sexuality will increase the blame on the victims and exonerate the perpetrator in the context of rape.