Women in STEM: Effects of gender and occupation in biased perception of professionals

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Florida Southern College
Research shows that female professionals are viewed more negatively than males (Abel & Meltzer, 2007), and are more likely to experience gender discrimination in male-dominated careers (Bobbitt-Zeher, 2011). This is especially relevant to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) professionals. People tend to associate STEM occupations with masculinity more than non-STEM jobs (White & White, 2006). According to role congruity theory, women in masculine jobs have occupations incongruous with gender expectations, potentially increasing bias against them (Clow, Ricciardelli, & Bartfay, 2015). There is limited literature regarding the role of sexism in predicting attitudes toward women in stereotypically masculine jobs. The current study investigated how a professional’s gender and their occupation’s stereotypical masculinity affected participant perceptions and the role of ambivalent sexism in predicting those attitudes. Specifically, the researchers predicted that participants would view women and men in gender-incongruent occupations more negatively. Participants read one of four vignettes and completed a survey assessing their views of the professional and degree of ambivalent sexism. The vignettes differed on gender (male vs. female) and job-type (doctor vs. school teacher). Based on 290 participants, the results indicated that there was no main effect of gender or occupation or an interaction between them on the perception of the professional.
Honors thesis Spring 2019
Sex discrimination, Sex discrimination against women, Women in science