Gender Inequality – Determinants of the Status of Women

Gender inequality means that women and men have different access to resources that would enable them to succeed in the marketplace.

Men, historically, have had better access to money, materials, and power. (Kimmel & Holler, 2011)

Status and violence
Cross-cultural research on female status suggest the lower a woman’s status in a culture the higher their chance of experiencing rape and violence.

Child care
The division of labor with respect to child care is an important determinant of the status of women in a society. A women’s status is generally higher when men play a greater role in rearing children. The more time men spend with their children, the less gender inequality is present in a culture (Kimmel & Holler, 2011).

Relationships between children and parents
Scott Coltrane found that in cultures where the relationship between a father and son is close, the higher the status of women tend to be. His research suggests with low involvement of fathers, boys tend to define themselves in opposition to their mother and other women and are therefore prone to display hypermasculinity and to fear and denigrate women as a way of showing their masculinity.

Coltrane, S.: Family man: Fatherhood, housework, and gender equity. Oxford University Press, 1966, p.191
Kimmel, M., Holler, J.: The gendered society Oxford University Press, 2011, p. 91-93

High Stakes Gender Bias – Part 1

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Researchers Ioana Latu, Marianne Mast and Tracie Stewart conducted and experiment to see if implicit and explicit gender stereotypes held by a male interviewer impacted a female applicant’s performance. In addition, they sought to uncover the impact of the applicant’s stereotypes on their performance in a job interview.

Prior research in the early 90s showed that female managers tended to be assigned more negative traits compared to men while successful managers were perceived as possessing traits associated with the male paradigm. More recent research by Duehr & Bono in 2006 suggest that Western culture is trending towards expressing more “equitable views of gender roles.”

Yet personal bias can exist below the surface even though we make explicitly disavow them. Explicit gender stereotypes define what we say out loud, while implicit gender stereotypes define the ideas we have that can only be exposed when we make quick decisions without deep reflection. The best way to uncover bias and measure it’s impact is to measure implicit gender bias.

There is ample research that shows how implicit stereotypes predict the decisions and discriminatory behavior of individuals with negative bias towards a particular group. For example,  Paluck & Spencer-Rodgers’ article called “The Masculinity of Money: Automatic Stereotypes Predict Gender Differences in Estimated Salaries“.

Current researcher suggest that in high stakes mixed-gender interactions such as a job interview, organizations should take into account implicit and explicit gender stereotypes.

In the next post, we will look at steps to mitigate the effects of gender bias in the context of a job interview.

Self-concept and the Self-reference Effect


Who are you?
Most of us have many ways of answering that question. Athletic. Overweight. Smart.

The answer we reach for readily is usually centered on what we are most proud of or the circumstance of the asking such as during a job interview or at a gathering of dads.
Social psychologist would characterize your answer to the question as an expression of your self-concept which leads to a phenomenon called the self-reference effect.
Researchers have found that when information is relevant to our self-concept, we process the information quickly and will remember it clearly. In other words, most of us are very self-focused.

According to Meyers & Smith (2015), the results of our self-focus means :

  1. we overestimate the extent to which someone’s behavior is direct towards us (someone not say “Hi” back to you in a crowd)
  2. we tend to take credit for events in which we are minor actors
  3. we compare how someone behaves to our own motives
  4. hearing our name shifts our auditory focus
  5. we tend to agonize over things other people probably haven’t noticed

The protection from all the above is altruism.

Researchers such as Nakao (2012) have found that people who are altruistic tend to not to fall easily under the spell of the self-reference effect.


Nakao, T., Tokunaga, S., Takamura, M., Nashiwa, H., Hayashi, S., & Miyatani, M. (2012) Alturistic people show no self-reference effect in memory. Journal of General Psychology, 139(1), 22-41.

Myers, D., & Smith, S.(2015) Exploring Social Psychology 4th Edition. McGraw-Hill Ryerson, page 30.

Shifting Attitudes – part 1

AttitudesHow we treat someone is rooted in early social experiences and is embedded in our attitudes.

Researchers define two types of attitudes, explicit (self-reported) and  implicit(less accessible and automatic). For example, an individual might self-report that they are comfortable being around the elderly. However, implicit bias, which is more automatic and less accessible, towards the elderly shows up when we need to make quick decisions about where to sit on public transit. Implicit bias is what an objective third party sees in the choices we make.

Researchers agree that implicit bias is more resistant to change. At the age of 6, children’s implicit and explicit bias is about the same. Children will say they don’t like someone and will make choices that express that attitude. However as we grow older there tends to be an asymmetrical relationship between the two types of attitudes. Implicit bias remains constant while explicit bias decreases over time.

Summary of some research on implicit and explicit attitudes

  1. Studies dealing with the elderly have shown that intergroup contact can affect both explicit and implicit bias (Tam, Hewstone, Harwood, Voci, & Kenworthy, 2006).
  2. Fewer implicit prejudices have been found in children who are close friends with children from different ethnic groups, opposed to children with no such contact (Aberson, Shoemaker, & Tomolillo, 2004).
  3. Opportunities to build friendships with members of another group increases positive attitudes of the group for children and high school students


Aberson, C. L., Shoemaker, C.,& Tomolillo, C. (2004). Implicit bias and contact: The role of interethnic friendships. Journal of Social Psychology, 144, 335–347.

Tam, T., Hewstone, M., Harwood, J., Voci, A.,& Kenworthy, J. B. (2006). Intergroup contact and grandparent-grandchild communication : The effects of self disclosure on implicit and explicit biases against older people. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 9, 413–430.