FEATURE2 February 2016

Going beyond the gilded cage

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Behavioural science Features Impact

To understand better how gender stereotypes might impact on market researchers’ careers, Women in Research (WIRe) looked at nonconscious gender perceptions. Elina Halonen shares the findings

Gender crop

A father and son are in a horrible car crash that kills the dad. The son is rushed to the hospital and just as he’s about to go under the knife, the surgeon says: ‘I can’t operate – that boy is my son!’

An old riddle such as this is a good example of the impact gender schemas can have on our thinking. Most people are puzzled by it, and suggest wildly creative options instead of the most obvious one: that the surgeon is a female and the boy’s mother.

One particular area where these stereotypes come into play is career choice, progression and recruitment. Everyone likes to think of themselves as enlightened, but we all store a range of belief patterns in our minds. We learn these schemas in childhood because they help us generalise and explain life, even though they do not necessarily reflect our personal values.

Despite what many think, gender stereotypes do not ...