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Gender at Work

A Social Psychological Perspective


Melanie C. Steffens and Ma. Àngels Viladot

While many women receive equal education, such equality is nowhere in sight when it comes to women’s and men’s career success: men still earn significantly more than women and are more likely to be promoted. In this book, the authors offer a state of the art review of applied social-psychological research on gender at work, shedding light on all the different ways that work-related perceptions, attributions, outcomes, and the like differ for women and men. Focusing on domains (e.g., engineering) and positions (e.g., leadership) that are marked by women’s underrepresentation, the first part of the book looks at gender at work in terms of stereotypes, attitudes, and social roles, including parenthood, while the second part takes a social identity and communication perspective, exploring the situations in which men and women interact at work. Many chapters focus on applied questions, such as career choice, effects of role models, and sexual harassment at work. Theories and findings are applied to these topics, with conclusions and recommendations drawn throughout the book.
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Part I: Stereotypes, Attitudes, and Social Roles


The first eight chapters provide various theoretical perspectives relevant to Gender at Work. To better understand men’s and women’s different careers, we start with explaining gender stereotypes in Chapter 1. As we will review, such stereotypes may not only affect how we perceive and evaluate others’ behavior, but their effect on how we see ourselves may be even more profound. Also, gender stereotypes are insidious because they comprise not only aspects that people are aware of but also more automatic (“unconscious”) ones that are hard to avoid.

We then turn to gender attitudes—evaluations of men and women and of their roles in society (“sexism”). Gender stereotypes suggest that, on average, men and women differ a lot, psychologically. Our chapter on gender differences takes a close look at the evidence concerning this question. In the final theory section, we review theories that focus on gender roles, gender hierarchies, and how they are maintained.← 11 | 12 →

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