Women's quota for role models: Can science change prejudice against women?


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Apparently, when it comes to executives, many people think of men first. This can be seen in simple psychological tests.

Women's quota for role models: Can science change prejudice against women?

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Prof. Dr. Niels van Quaquebeke 46Prof. Dr. Niels Van Quaquebeke Professor for Leadership and Organizational Behavior at the Kühne Logistics University.

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What are Gender Trainings?

We wanted to find out whether one can counteract this discriminatory implicit association pattern by presenting images of female and, as a comparison, male executives, so-called incongruent stimulation.

In general, it can be assumed that maintaining a stereotype is easier than changing it. Modifying a stereotype, following classic approaches, is therefore always associated with effort, intensive self-reflection and the intention to change one's own attitude. So-called gender trainings try to use two different approaches to achieve equality in Company to promote.

Concrete skills & awareness training

On the one hand, skill-building trainings provide specific skills that will enable executives to judge employees regardless of their gender.

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On the other hand, in so-called awareness training, the economic importance of equal opportunities is highlighted and the participants reflect on their own stereotypes towards women and how they can influence their assessments.

Subliminal discrimination and subtle methods

Subtle working approaches use the theory of cognitive dissonance. Following this approach, it is argued that implicit stereotypes can also be modified without the need for significant deliberate reflections.

For example, implicit stereotypes can be modified by additional inconsistent information or by dealing with stereotype-consistent mental images.

How does this work?

For example, the research by Dasgupta and Greenwald shows that the preference for Caucasians (persons with European ancestors, who are usually fair-skinned) can be reduced to African Americans by the sole presentation of images of popular, prominent African Americans.

Also, Dasgupta and Asgari 2004 have shown that women faced with CVs and female executives can associate female gender with leadership skills more quickly than women in a control group who have studied flowers and their characteristics.

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Help pictures, prejudice?

Based on these results, the present study investigates the question whether the mere depiction of known female executives (without corresponding texts on their background in leadership as well as in Dasgupta and Asgari) in the sense of an inconsistent stimulation is sufficient to stimulate the perception not only of Women, but also by men with regard to the association of not only women (as in Dasgupta and Asgari), but also by men and leadership.

As a benchmark, we are interested in the pattern of association shown by people presenting images of well-known male executives (rather than presenting flowers as in Dasgupta and Asgari), as we believe that this condition corresponds to that of the majority of male leaders in organizations and thus also in the media, predominant reception behavior.

The methodology

Derived from previous studies that have shown that stereotypical stereotypes can change implicit stereotypes, we suspect that in a group that presents images of male executives, there is a reaction time pattern in which the concepts of man and leadership are traditionally faster can be associated with each other as the concepts of wife and leadership.

In contrast, in a group where well-known female executives are presented, we assume that the association pattern converges and therefore differs significantly from the other group.

The hypothesis

Although the portrayal of female leaders should facilitate the association of women and leadership, but the association between man and leadership compared to this classifies the classically anocialized viewpoint, it should be noted that we only proceed from an approximation and not a reversal of the association pattern. Specifically, we therefore assume the following hypothesis:

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Individuals presenting images of male executives associate the concepts of man and leadership with one another more misleading than those who present images of well-known female executives;


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