Workplace Gender Bias: Not Just Between Strangers

Nadler, Joel T.; Stockdale, Margaret S.
June 2012
North American Journal of Psychology;Jun2012, Vol. 14 Issue 2, p281
Academic Journal
The causes of the gender pay gap in the United States have received considerable attention. Researchers have suggested that market forces and individual choices explain most if not all differences between men's and women's pay and promotion differences (Anker, 1997). Although support for gender stereotyping has been found in experimental studies, the validity of such "stranger-to-stranger" studies has also been questioned. In the face of these criticisms we review the substantial inequalities between genders in the modern workplace and the evidence for stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination. This paper focuses on gender; however, our analysis can easily be applied to other identity groups such as racial-ethnic minorities and older workers. We review statistics relevant to the current status of working women and men of the U.S. and then discuss plausible explanations for these disparities that do not involve stereotyping. Finally, concerns that cannot be so easily explained away are examined: sexual harassment and prejudice against agentic women. Gender bias between strangers is supported by research; however, workplace gender discrimination occurs in the context of individuating information. Research on gender bias needs to bridge the gaps between "stranger-to-stranger" gender bias, and real world discrimination to provide guidance on workplace interventions.


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