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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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Chapter 10. The Role of Organizational Cultures


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This chapter focuses on different aspects at the intersection of individuals and organizations: job search, job success, negotiations, and diversity in organizations.

What should additionally be taken into account regarding job search situations? Job advertisements should be phrased in a way that attracts both male and female applicants (see also Part II of this volume). Moreover, one should consider that men, in comparison to women, estimate their own abilities to be higher. As a consequence, women may need more active encouragement than men do to consider high-ranked jobs at all. We have also discussed that men self-promote more than women do (and are allowed to do) and that self-promotion during job interviews increases apparent ability.

The aforementioned findings and considerations on the influence of stereotypes on impressions of others can be summarized in the following recommendations: (a) As much information as possible should be available about applicants and (b) this information should actually be used by evaluators (e.g., by rating each applicant on each criterion, taking enough time, and ← 123 | 124 → being held accountable for decisions); (c) research on the role of selection criteria shows that these should be specific (see Heilman & Parks-Stamm, 2007; Reskin & Bielby, 2005; Swim et al., 1989). If these recommendations are followed, there is much less room for gender stereotypes to color judgments.

Why selection criteria need to be defined in advance was intriguingly demonstrated in a study with the telling subtitle, “Redefining...

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