ArticlePDF Available

When Men Break the Gender Rules: Status Incongruity and Backlash Against Modest Men

Article

When Men Break the Gender Rules: Status Incongruity and Backlash Against Modest Men

Abstract

Adherence to masculine norms and stereotypes has been linked to negative consequences for men, suggesting that liberating men from the bonds of traditional masculinity would be beneficial (Courtenay, 2000; Pollack, 1998). However, when people deviate from stereotypic expectations, they encounter backlash (i.e., social and economic penalties; Rudman & Phelan, 2008). The current research demonstrated backlash in the form of prejudice against modest (i.e., atypical) men and supported predictions derived from the status-incongruity hypothesis (SIH) to account for backlash (Rudman, Phelan, Moss-Racusin, & Nauts, 2009). Modest men were perceived as violating men's proscriptions linked to low status (e.g., weakness and uncertainty), as well as agentic men's prescriptions linked to high status (e.g., confidence and ambition). By contrast, status-neutral communal traits were not an explanatory factor in backlash. These findings suggest that perceived status violations underscore backlash, pressuring men to conform to masculine norms and stereotypes that limit their human potential. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
When Men Break the Gender Rules:
Status Incongruity and Backlash Against Modest Men
Corinne A. Moss-Racusin, Julie E. Phelan, and Laurie A. Rudman
Rutgers University
Adherence to masculine norms and stereotypes has been linked to negative conse-
quences for men, suggesting that liberating men from the bonds of traditional mascu-
linity would be beneficial (Courtenay, 2000; Pollack, 1998). However, when people
deviate from stereotypic expectations, they encounter backlash (i.e., social and eco-
nomic penalties; Rudman & Phelan, 2008). The current research demonstrated backlash
in the form of prejudice against modest (i.e., atypical) men and supported predictions
derived from the status-incongruity hypothesis (SIH) to account for backlash (Rudman,
Phelan, Moss-Racusin, & Nauts, 2009). Modest men were perceived as violating men’s
proscriptions linked to low status (e.g., weakness and uncertainty), as well as agentic
men’s prescriptions linked to high status (e.g., confidence and ambition). By contrast,
status-neutral communal traits were not an explanatory factor in backlash. These
findings suggest that perceived status violations underscore backlash, pressuring men to
conform to masculine norms and stereotypes that limit their human potential.
Keywords: gender stereotypes, gender prejudice, backlash effects, impression management
Stereotypes dictating what men and women
ought (and ought not) to be function as a set of
“gender rules,” which powerfully shape expec-
tations for human behavior (Eagly, 1987; Pren-
tice & Carranza, 2002). Historically and cross-
culturally, men have been stereotyped as more
agentic (i.e., independent and self-focused) than
women, and women as more communal (i.e.,
other-oriented and modest) than men (Williams
& Best, 1990). Because gender stereotypes le-
gitimize men’s greater status relative to women
(Eagly, 1987; Ridgeway, 2001), their negative
effects on men are often overlooked. Nonethe-
less, pervasive masculine stereotypes demand-
ing power displays, self-reliance, and stoicism
can be harmful to men (Levant & Pollack, 1995;
Pleck, 1981). Indeed, pressure to adhere to mas-
culine ideals damages men’s mental and phys-
ical health (Courtenay, 2000), their social rela-
tionships (Burn & Ward, 2005), and increases
men’s propensity to enact physical harm
through demands for aggression (Reidy, Shirk,
Sloan, & Zeichner, 2009). Thus, despite their
advantages, pressure to conform to gender rules
is detrimental for men.
An obvious solution would be to encourage
men to behave in ways that are less traditionally
masculine (e.g., Kimmel, 2004; Pleck, 1981).
Terms like “sensitive new age man” and
“metrosexual” reflect changes in gender roles
that ought to afford men more latitude for com-
munality and less demand for agency (Edwards,
2006). However, research on dynamic stereo-
types (i.e., people’s future projections of gender
stereotypes) suggest that men will continue to
be held to a high standard of agency (and a low
standard of communality) even 50 years from
now (Diekman, Goodfriend, & Goodwin,
2004). More importantly, considerable research
has demonstrated that individuals who violate
gender stereotypes risk social and economic
penalties (i.e., backlash; Phelan, Moss-Racusin,
& Rudman, 2008; Rudman, 1998). Specifically,
backlash emerges when atypical men and
women are judged more negatively (e.g., as less
likable and hirable) compared with identically
Corinne A. Moss-Racusin, Julie E. Phelan, and Laurie A.
Rudman, Department of Psychology, Rutgers University,
Piscataway, New Jersey.
This research was supported by a National Science Foun-
dation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship awarded to
Corinne A. Moss-Racusin, a Jacob K. Javits Fellowship
(U.S. Department of Education) awarded to Julie E. Phelan,
and NSF grant BCS-0443342 awarded to Laurie A. Rudman.
Correspondence concerning this article should be
addressed to Corinne A. Moss-Racusin, Department of Psy-
chology, 53 Avenue E, Tillett Hall, Piscataway, NJ 08854-
8040. E-mail: cmossrac@eden.rutgers.edu
Psychology of Men & Masculinity © 2010 American Psychological Association
2010, Vol. 11, No. 2, 140–151 1524-9220/10/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/a0018093
140
behaving members of the other gender. For ex-
ample, men who self-disclose their personal
problems are perceived less favorably than
women who do so (i.e., as psychologically un-
stable; Derlega & Chaiken, 1976). Thus, al-
though stereotype conformity carries high costs
for men, stereotype violation places men at risk
for backlash.
This dilemma is not particular to men
(women suffer from it as well), but to date, the
research investigating backlash effects has fo-
cused predominately on costs for atypical
women (for a review, see Rudman & Phelan,
2008). Moreover, research has yet to examine
the specific gender stereotype violations respon-
sible for backlash against atypical men. The
present research addressed this gap in the liter-
ature in two ways. First, we sought to demon-
strate prejudice (i.e., dislike) against atypical
men who behaved modestly during a job inter-
view. That is, because modesty (defined as hav-
ing a moderate opinion of oneself, or a lack of
pretentiousness) conflicts with masculine ste-
reotypes demanding self-promotion, we pre-
dicted that modest men would be disliked and
suffer hiring discrimination (i.e., be less likely
to be hired) relative to modest women—
hallmarks of backlash for violating gender ste-
reotypes (Rudman, 1998; Rudman & Phelan,
2008). Second, and more importantly, we
sought to account for backlash by specifying
the gender rules that are culpable. Because
gender stereotypes harm men as well as
women, it is important to illuminate the rea-
sons why men are penalized when they vio-
late masculine stereotypes.
The Costs of Masculine Gender
Stereotype Conformity
“Walk tall,” “Be a man,” “Don’t be a sissy”;
these familiar phrases underscore the extent to
which gender stereotypes generally call for men
to be strong and proud (Mahalik et al., 2003;
Prentice & Carranza, 2002; Prime & Moss-
Racusin, 2009). That is, men are expected to be
successful, powerful, and dominant (“winners”;
Kimmel, 2004), show no weaknesses or chinks
in the armor (Prentice & Carranza, 2002; Prime
& Moss-Racusin, 2009), and avoid acting in
ways that might be perceived as feminine (Ber-
dahl, 2007; Bosson, Prewitt-Freilino, & Taylor,
2005; Prentice & Carranza, 2002). In general,
masculine stereotypes prescribe men to be “bad
but bold” (Glick et al., 2004), demanding that
they strive to gain and maintain the respect of
others (Collinson & Hearn, 1996; Prentice &
Carranza, 2002). To do so, men consistently
overestimate their own abilities (Heatherington,
Burns, & Gustafson, 1998) and self-promote
more effectively than women (Moss-Racusin &
Rudman, 2009; Rudman, 1998), underscoring
the greater latitude for men’s (vs. women’s)
boastfulness (Miller, Cook, Tsang, & Morgan,
1992). Although gender differences in ability
estimation have been termed the “female mod-
esty effect” (Daubman, Heatherington, & Ahn,
1992), they are also by definition the “male
immodesty effect,” in that men are expected to
outdo rivals and engage in one-upmanship
when they compete for resources (Tannen,
1994). Thus, displays of dominance, including
immodesty, are a key component of playing by
the masculine gender rules.
However, conforming to gender rules has
negative consequences for men. The demand
for male dominance is harmful to men’s rela-
tionships (Burn & Ward, 2005), and proscrip-
tions against men’s modesty and deference are
associated with increased aggression toward
women (Parrott & Zeichner, 2003; Reidy et al.,
2009). Indeed, men’s mental and physical
health can suffer from adhering to masculine
ideals (Levant & Pollack, 1995). For example,
conforming to stereotypes calling for men to be
self-reliant and stoic (even in the face of diffi-
cult life events) is associated with heightened
levels of depression and psychological distress
(Cochran & Rabinowitz, 1999; Hayes &
Mahalik, 2000; Magovcevic & Addis, 2008;
Real, 2000), and promotes risky behaviors that
impinge on men’s health and longevity (Cour-
tenay, 2000; Mahalik, Lagan, & Morrison,
2006; Pleck, 1981). Taken together, these find-
ings suggest that men suffer when they conform
to masculine stereotypes.
Backlash for Stereotype Violations
Despite the high costs of adhering to masculine
stereotypes, stereotype violation is associated with
its own set of risks (Rudman & Phelan, 2008). For
men, backlash effects have been underinvesti-
gated, but some evidence suggests that, relative to
comparable women, they are penalized for pas-
siveness (Costrich, Feinstein, Kidder, Maracek,
141BACKLASH AGAINST MODEST MEN
& Pascale, 1975), emotional self-disclosure
(Derlega & Chaiken, 1976), and achieving suc-
cess in feminine domains (Cherry & Deaux,
1978; Rudman & Fairchild, 2004). Given that
modesty is associated with women (Heathering-
ton et al., 1998), it should incur penalties for
men because acting “macho” is a key compo-
nent of men’s professional power (Collinson &
Hearn, 1996). Indeed, men who act modestly
may be viewed as weak, and in turn experience
ostracism in the workplace for not behaving like
“one of the boys” (Berdahl, 2007). It therefore
seems likely that men tend to behave immodestly
because to do otherwise risks social and economic
penalties.
To date, considerably more research has fo-
cused on backlash against atypical women than
men, likely because backlash interferes with
women’s professional success and is thus an
obvious impediment to gender equality (Hei-
lman, Wallen, Fuchs, & Tamkins, 2004; Phelan
et al., 2008; Rudman & Phelan, 2008). A large
body of research has demonstrated that women
striving for leadership roles suffer backlash
when they violate gender stereotypes by exhib-
iting agency (e.g., Eagly, Makhijani, & Klon-
sky, 1992; Gill, 2004; Heilman et al., 2004;
Phelan et al., 2008; Rudman, 1998; Rudman &
Glick, 1999, 2001). Because agency is required
of leaders, women face a Catch-22; they are
viewed as unqualified to lead if they do not
break the gender rules, but risk backlash when
they do (Eagly & Karau, 2002). As reviewed
below, progress has been made toward under-
standing the mechanisms responsible for back-
lash against atypical women. By comparison,
research has yet to investigate the underpin-
nings of backlash against atypical men.
The Status Incongruity Hypothesis (SIH)
To determine the gender stereotypes that pro-
mote backlash, it is useful to distinguish be-
tween prescriptive rules dictating what men and
women ought to be (i.e., agentic and communal,
respectively; Burgess & Borgida, 1999; Eagly,
Wood, & Diekman, 2000) and proscriptive
rules delineating what men and women ought
not be (Prentice & Carranza, 2002). For exam-
ple, women are allowed to be weak, whereas
this trait is strongly proscribed (i.e., viewed as
unacceptable) for men; by contrast, dominance
is reserved for men and prohibited for women
(Rudman et al., 2009). Thus, gender stereotypes
are comprised of four sets of rules, and expec-
tations for behavior consist of both the shoulds
(prescriptions) and the should nots (proscrip-
tions) for each gender.
It is critical to determine which type of ste-
reotype violations result in backlash. That is, to
understand the processes responsible for back-
lash, it is necessary to clarify whether atypical
men are penalized for violating men’s prescrip-
tions, proscriptions, or both. Previous work on
the SIH provides a theoretical framework for
approaching this novel question. The SIH posits
that defending the status quo provides a strong
motivation for backlash; as a result, people who
violate stereotypes that justify the gender hier-
archy should be most at risk for backlash (Rud-
man et al., 2009). To test this hypothesis, Rud-
man et al. focused on backlash against women
striving to be leaders (i.e., agentic women).
They first determined that women’s proscrip-
tions (e.g., dominant and intimidating) were
aligned with high status, whereas men’s pro-
scriptions (e.g., weak and insecure) were
aligned with low status. Men’s prescriptions
(e.g., confidence and leadership ability) were
strongly linked to high status; they consisted
entirely of agentic traits expected of leaders.
However, women’s communality prescriptions
(e.g., supportive and friendly) were neutral with
respect to status. According to the SIH, agentic
women should be penalized for violating sta-
tus-linked women’s proscriptions (breaking
the dominance rule) rather than violating
women’s prescriptions, which are unaligned
with status and thus, not threatening to the
gender hierarchy.
Results from four experiments supported the
SIH hypothesis. Specifically, as in prior re-
search, agentic women were disliked relative to
agentic men (i.e., they suffered backlash), but
they were also perceived to be more dominant,
intimidating, and arrogant than agentic men.
More important, violating women’s proscrip-
tions mediated (i.e., explained) backlash. That
is, after controlling for dominance perceptions,
backlash was reduced to nonsignificance, sug-
gesting that agentic women are not liked be-
cause they are perceived to be “too powerful”
(for a woman). By contrast, they were not
viewed as less communal than agentic men,
ruling out women’s prescriptions as a media-
tor of backlash. This finding supports the SIH
142 MOSS-RACUSIN, PHELAN, AND RUDMAN
because women’s communality prescriptions
are neutral with respect to status and thus,
were not expected to underscore backlash.
However, because atypical male targets were
not included in these studies, the specific set
of gender rules responsible for backlash
against men remains unknown.
Overview of the Current Research
The current research employed the SIH to
predict that backlash against modest men stems
from perceived violations of both men’s pre-
scriptions and proscriptions. As noted (and in
contrast to women), both men’s prescriptions
and proscriptions are highly related to status
(Rudman et al., 2009). According to the SIH, a
modest man should be disliked because he vio-
lates (a) the high status prescriptions men are
charged with upholding (e.g., confidence, am-
bition, and leadership ability) and (b) the low
status proscriptions that men must avoid (e.g.,
weakness, insecurity, and uncertainty). There-
fore, to support the SIH, backlash against mod-
est men (relative to modest women) should be
accounted for by both men’s prescriptions and
proscriptions. That is, modest men should ex-
perience backlash in the form of dislike and
hiring discrimination relative to modest women,
and these gender differences should be medi-
ated by perceptions of insufficient men’s pre-
scriptive traits and excessive men’s proscriptive
traits.
However, if modest men are viewed as “too
communal” (for a man), they should be over-
charged with women’s prescriptive traits (e.g.,
warm, supportive, and friendly) relative to mod-
est women, and these communal traits should
mediate backlash effects. Because communal
traits are neutral with respect to status, this
result would contradict the SIH. Therefore, it
was important to the discriminant validity of the
SIH that all four gender rules be included, in
order to be assessed as mediators of the ex-
pected gender differences in likability and
hirability. The fourth set, women’s proscrip-
tions (e.g., dominant, intimidating, and arro-
gant), were not expected to play a role in back-
lash against modest men because they are the
antithesis of modesty, and thus, all applicants
should score particularly low on these traits.
Specific hypotheses were as follows:
Hypothesis 1: Modest men will experience
social and economic backlash (i.e., be
viewed as less likable and less hirable than
modest women).
Hypothesis 2: Modest men will be viewed
as weaker (possessing excessive men’s
proscribed traits) and less agentic (possess-
ing insufficient men’s prescribed traits),
compared with modest women.
Hypothesis 3: Perceived violations of both
men’s proscriptive and prescriptive stereo-
types will account for (i.e., reliably medi-
ate) backlash against modest men. That is,
modest men will experience backlash be-
cause they are viewed as excessively weak
and insufficiently agentic.
Hypothesis 4: Perceived violations of
women’s proscriptive and prescriptive
traits should not play a role in backlash
against modest men (i.e., they should show
no gender differences and therefore, be
ineligible as mediators of backlash).
Method
Participants
A total of 232 (132 female, 100 male) stu-
dents (Mage !20.00) participated in ex-
change for partial credit toward their intro-
ductory psychology course requirement. Of
these, 134 (58%) were White, 52 (22%) were
Asian, 15 (7%) were Hispanic, 14 (6%) were
Black, 7 (3%) were Multiracial, and the re-
maining 10 participants (4%) reported an-
other ethnic background.
Materials
Interview tapes. Participants viewed vid-
eotaped interviews (approximately 15 min in
length) of either a male or female confederate
(i.e., paid actor) posing as an applicant ostensi-
bly being considered for a computer lab man-
ager position. To enhance perceptions that the job
was gender-neutral, the position was described as
requiring both strong technical abilities (to main-
tain the computers) as well as excellent social
skills (to interact with and assist users). The script,
developed by the coauthors in concert with con-
federates and the IT expert in the psychology
department, included 10 questions likely to be
143BACKLASH AGAINST MODEST MEN
asked during an interview (e.g., “What kind of
leadership skills would you bring to the job?” and
“How do you propose to keep up-to-date with
technological advances?”), and the applicants’ re-
sponses were designed to be competent but mod-
est (see the Appendix). For example, in response
to the question, “What are your technical skills?”
applicants answered:
Well, I’ve taken several computer classes where we
wrote programs using most of the major languages.
And I’m familiar with Windows and Mac operating
systems. I’m also pretty experienced using Windows
programs. I think I’m pretty good at identifying com-
puter problems and troubleshooting. Most of the time
people have printer problems and those aren’t too hard
to fix. So I think I’ve got some pretty good technical
skills to offer.
The text of each question was presented on-
screen before each response, so that participants
would not be influenced by the interviewers’
characteristics (e.g., gender and attractiveness).
Confederates. Two male and two female
graduate student confederates were trained to
enact identical responses to the interview ques-
tions. Confederates were chosen to be similar in
attractiveness based on the opinion of the au-
thors and confirmed by the assessments of other
graduate and undergraduate assistants. Two
training sessions were conducted to ensure that
the confederates delivered their lines as identi-
cally as possible and displayed similar nonver-
bal behaviors (e.g., smiling and eye-gaze). Dur-
ing these training sessions, the confederates
practiced their lines together until a team of
observing researchers (including the authors
and other graduate and undergraduate assis-
tants) agreed that their approach was standard-
ized (i.e., reflecting both competence and mod-
esty). Once training was complete, filming took
place before an off-camera laptop displaying the
script in order to avoid memorization and im-
paired line delivery.
Applicant competence. Participants re-
sponded to seven items assessing applicants’
competence on a scale ranging from 1 (not at
all)to6(very much). To match the job descrip-
tion, items pertained to both the technical (e.g.,
“Did the applicant strike you as competent?”
and “How likely is it that the applicant has
significant technical skills for this job?”) and
social (e.g., “Is the applicant willing to listen to
and support clients?” and “How likely is it that
users would feel comfortable seeking help from
the applicant?”) qualifications of the job. Items
were averaged to form the competence index
("!.77).
Applicant liking. Using the same scale,
participants responded to three items assessing
applicant likability (i.e., social penalties). These
were, “How much did you like the applicant?”;
“Would you characterize this person as some-
one you want to get to know better?” and “How
popular would the applicant be with col-
leagues?” Items were averaged to form the lik-
ing index ("!.74).
Applicant hirability. To assess hirability
(i.e., economic penalties), participants re-
sponded to three items using the same scale.
The items were, “How much would you like
to personally interview the applicant?”; “How
likely would you be to hire the applicant?”
and “How likely is it that the applicant will
get the job?” Responses were averaged to
form the hirability index ("!.93).
Stereotypic trait indexes. To test the SIH,
participants also rated the applicants on men’s
and women’s prescriptive and proscriptive ste-
reotypic traits drawn from previous research
(Rudman et al., 2009). Participants were asked,
“How much does this trait characterize the ap-
plicant?” and responses were indicated on a
Likert scale ranging from 1 (not at all) to 6
(very much). The men’s prescribed traits were
confident, strong leader, ambitious, indepen-
dent, intelligent, and competitive ("!.86). The
women’s prescriptions were cooperative, sup-
portive, friendly, warm, and sensitive to the
needs of others,("!.84). The men’s proscrip-
tions were weak, insecure,spineless, indecisive,
and uncertain ("!.77). Finally, women’s pro-
scriptions were dominating,intimidating, arro-
gant, self-centered, cold toward others,and
selfish ("!.77). The stereotype indexes were
originally derived from results of a survey ask-
ing participants to rate how desirable it is in
American society for a woman or man to pos-
sess various traits (Rudman et al., 2009). A
factor analysis showed that each index reflected
a single component (accounting for more than
50% of the variance and with all factor loadings
greater than .52).
Confederate credibility. To test the effec-
tiveness of confederates’ training, we included a
measure of how credible participants found them
to be during the interview. Using the same scale,
participants rated the confederates’ sincerity and
144 MOSS-RACUSIN, PHELAN, AND RUDMAN
honesty,whichwereaveragedtoformthecredi-
bility index, r(232) !.58, p#.001.
Procedure
Participants were brought into the lab to par-
ticipate in an “Interview Skills” project, and
completed the study in individual cubicles.
They were told they would evaluate videotaped
job applicants (in reality, the interview tapes of
the paid confederate actors) for a computer lab
manager position. Participants were then ran-
domly assigned to view the tape of either a male
or female applicant. After watching the inter-
view, the experimenter started a desktop com-
puter program that administered all measures.
Participants rated the applicant’s competence,
liking, and hirability (in that order). Next, they
completed the stereotypic trait indexes and
credibility index (presented in random order).
Items within each measure were randomly pre-
sented by the computer program. Finally, par-
ticipants were fully debriefed as to the purpose
of the study and awarded academic credit.
Results
Preliminary Analyses
To ensure that confederates’ training was
successful, we analyzed the credibility index in
a 4 (confederate) $2 (participant gender) anal-
ysis of variance (ANOVA). No main effects or
interactions emerged, all Fs(3, 224) #1.00, ns,
indicating that the confederates were viewed as
equally believable. A similar analysis showed
that confederates were perceived to be equally
friendly, all Fs(3, 224) #1.81, ps%.18.
To examine possible effects of participant
race, it was necessary to collapse across minor-
ity groups because there were not enough par-
ticipants from several ethnic groups to examine
them individually. We then conducted 2 (appli-
cant gender) $2 (participant gender) $2 (par-
ticipant race: White, non-White) ANOVAs on
each of the dependent variables. No significant
main or interaction effects emerged, all ps%
.08. Therefore, we collapsed across participant
race for our focal analyses.
Backlash Against Modest Men
To determine whether stereotype-violating
modest men incur backlash, we submitted the
competence, liking, and hirability indexes to
separate 2 (applicant gender) $2 (participant
gender) ANOVAs. The top half of Table 1
shows the results. No differences emerged for
competence (all ps%.29), suggesting that mod-
est men and women were viewed as similarly
qualified. Supporting hypothesis 1, a significant
main effect of applicant gender emerged for
liking, F(1, 228) !17.46, p#.001. As ex-
pected, male applicants were liked less than
female applicants, resulting in a moderately
large effect size for social backlash (d!.52). In
contrast, no significant main or interaction ef-
fects emerged for hirability, all Fs(1,
228) #4.98, ps%.07, indicating that modest
men were not discriminated against relative to
Table 1
Evaluations of Male and Female Computer Lab Manager Applicants
Male Female Sex difference
M SD M SD t d
Competence 3.50 .74 3.57 .79 .72 .09
Liking 3.11 1.01 3.61 .91 3.97
!!!
.52
Hirability 3.18 1.18 3.31 1.24 .82 .11
Stereotypes
Men’s prescribed 2.96 .93 3.32 .91 3.00
!!
.39
Women’s prescribed 4.73 .85 4.73 .76 .05 .00
Men’s proscribed 3.61 1.16 3.16 .99 3.17
!!
&.42
Women’s proscribed 1.74 .77 1.76 .71 .15 .03
Note. Effect sizes (Cohen’s d) represent applicant gender differences. Positive effect sizes favor female applicants;
negative effect sizes favor male applicants. Conventional small, medium, and large effect sizes for dare .20, .50, and .80,
respectively (Cohen, 1988).
!!
p#.01.
!!!
p#.001.
145BACKLASH AGAINST MODEST MEN
modest women. Nonetheless, liking was
strongly related to hiring recommendations for
both female applicants, r(117) !.43, p#.001,
and male applicants, r(111) !.62, p#.001.
Therefore, it is important to illuminate why
modest men were liked less than modest
women. Because hypothesis 1 was only par-
tially supported, we employed the SIH to ac-
count for social backlash (i.e., prejudice against
modest men). Finally, in keeping with past re-
search, no significant effects were associated
with participant gender (all ps%.07), suggest-
ing that men and women were equally likely to
exhibit backlash against modest men (see Rud-
man & Phelan, 2008, for a review).
Testing the Status Incongruity Hypothesis
for Men
To examine support for the SIH, we submit-
ted the four stereotypic trait indexes to sepa-
rate 2 (applicant gender) $2 (participant gen-
der) ANOVAs. Table 1 (bottom half) displays
the results. Supporting hypothesis 2, an appli-
cant gender main effect emerged for men’s pre-
scriptive traits, F(1, 228) !6.73, p#.01, such
that modest men were rated lower than modest
women on high status, agentic traits (e.g., lead-
ership ability, ambition, and confidence). There
was also the predicted applicant gender main
effect for men’s proscriptive traits, F(1,
228) !12.81, p#.01, such that male appli-
cants were rated higher than female applicants
on low status traits (e.g., weak, uncertain, and
insecure). Thus, modest men were viewed as
both insufficiently agentic and excessively
weak, as predicted by Hypothesis 2. These re-
sults support the SIH because men’s prescrip-
tions and proscriptions are linked to high and
low status, respectively. Providing discriminant
validity and supporting hypothesis 4, there were
no reliable effects for status-neutral women’s
prescriptions (e.g., warm and supportive; all
ps%.23). Thus, modest men were not viewed
as more communal than modest women, but
neither are these traits linked to status. Not
surprisingly, there were also no reliable effects
for women’s proscriptive traits (e.g., dominance
and arrogance; all ps%.56). Modest targets
were rated particularly low on this index, irre-
spective of gender. Finally, no main or interac-
tion effects emerged for participant gender (all
ps%.19).
Mediation analyses. The SIH predicts that
prejudice against modest men should be ac-
counted for by violations of men’s proscriptions
and prescriptions (hypothesis 3). Coding appli-
cant sex such that 0 !male and 1 !female, we
standardized all other variables and then used a
series of regressions to test this prediction
(Baron & Kenny, 1986; Frazier, Tix, & Baron,
2004). A pattern of support for the hypothesized
mediation effect of men’s proscriptions on lik-
ing was shown (see Table 2, Model 1): (a) In
Step 1, applicant gender predicted liking, '!
.25, p#.001, such that women were liked more
than men; (b) in Step 2, the applicant gender
regression coefficient was reduced to '!.17,
Table 2
Mediation Analyses Predicting Applicant Liking
Model Step 't(R
2
Z
1. Proscribed trait mediation
Applicant gender 1 .25 3.96
!!!
.06
!!!
Applicant gender 2 .17 2.88
!!
Men’s Proscribed Trait Index 2 &.39 6.45
!!!
.15
!!!
2.61
!!
2. Prescribed trait mediation
Applicant gender 1 .25 3.96
!!!
.06
!!!
Applicant gender 2 .17 2.85
!!
Men’s Prescribed Trait Index 2 .45 7.80
!!!
.20
!!!
2.55
!!
3. Comparing predictors for men
Men’s Prescribed Trait Index 1 .48 5.84
!!!
.24
!!!
Men’s Prescribed Trait Index 2 .36 3.57
!!
Men’s Proscribed Trait Index 2 &.23 2.26
!
.03
!
Note. Applicant gender was coded 0 (male) and 1 (female). Regression coefficients are standardized. The last column
shows Sobel’s (1988) Ztest for significant mediation.
!
p#.05.
!!
p#.01.
!!!
p#.001.
146 MOSS-RACUSIN, PHELAN, AND RUDMAN
p#.01, and the effect of men’s proscriptions
on liking was significant, '!&.39, p#.001
(i.e., applicants were not liked to the extent they
were viewed as weak and insecure). Critically,
Sobel’s (1982) test for the significance of the
mediation effect was reliable, Z!2.61, p#
.01. Because men were viewed as weaker than
women (see Table 1’s men’s proscription in-
dex), this suggests that modest men were not
liked as much as modest women because they
were viewed as “too weak” (for a man). Finally,
the model explained a significant amount of the
variance in applicant liking, F(1, 228) !30.03,
p#.001, R
2
!.21. These findings are consis-
tent with hypothesis 3 because prejudice against
modest men was significantly accounted for by
perceptions that violate men’s proscriptions.
We followed the same procedure to test
men’s prescriptions as a mediator of social
backlash (see Table 2, Model 2). In accord with
hypothesis 3, men’s prescriptions proved to be a
reliable mediator of the link between applicant
gender and liking Z!2.55, p#.01. Model 2
also explained a significant amount of the vari-
ance in applicant liking, F(1, 228) !40.31, p#
.001, R
2
!.26. Because men were judged to be
significantly less agentic than women (see Ta-
ble 1’s men’s prescription index), this suggests
that modest men were not liked as much as
modest women because they were viewed as
insufficiently confident and ambitious.
Finally, the correlation between men’s pre-
scriptions and proscriptions was robustly nega-
tive, r(232) !&.63, p#.001. Therefore, it was
important to establish the incremental validity
of the masculine stereotype indexes as predic-
tors of liking modest men. Table 2’s Model 3
reveals that, for male applicants, both stereotype
indexes were significant predictors of liking
(i.e., both prescriptions and proscriptions added
unique variance). Moreover, the model ex-
plained a significant amount of variance, F(1,
109) !20.22, p#.001, R
2
!.27.
In concert, Table 2’s mediation results support
the SIH by showing that men suffer backlash
when they are perceived to violate masculine ste-
reotypes that legitimize the gender hierarchy. Be-
cause women’s proscriptions and prescriptions
did not show applicant gender differences, they
could not be tested as potential mediators (in
keeping with hypothesis 4). Thus, modest men
were not punished for being “too communal,”
but neither are communality prescriptions
linked to status (Rudman et al., 2009). Instead,
the findings suggest that status-related gender
stereotypes are key to understanding why
counterstereotypical men are at risk for back-
lash. To prevent being disliked, men may be
required to both exhibit agency (the high sta-
tus traits associated with leaders) and to avoid
any signs of weakness associated with low
status people.
Discussion
Although masculine stereotypes legitimize
men’s cultural status, their demands on men are
unrealistic (Pleck, 1981), and conforming to
gender rules harms men and their relationships
(e.g., Burn & Ward, 2005; Levant & Pollack,
1995; Pollack, 1998). Changes in gender roles
that have afforded women more financial inde-
pendence have not yielded relaxed demands for
men. That is, men are still required to uphold
masculine ideals that require chronic exhibi-
tions of strength while avoiding signs of weak-
ness (Prentice & Carranza, 2002; Rudman et al.,
2009). As a result, atypical men are at risk for
backlash–-a phenomenon that reinforces the
gender rules and prevents men and women from
realizing their full human potential (Rudman &
Fairchild, 2004).
Although past research on backlash has fo-
cused on reactions to agentic women, it is
equally important to investigate the underpin-
nings of negative reactions to atypical men,
illuminating how gender rules force men to
conform to (sometimes detrimental) masculine
norms and contribute to the gender status quo.
To that end, the present research served as an
initial test of the SIH when predicting backlash
against atypical men. Specifically, we investi-
gated penalties for men’s modesty, because dis-
plays of dominance (including immodesty) are
not only more acceptable in men (Daubman et
al., 1992; Heatherington et al., 1998; Miller et
al., 1992; Rudman, 1998), they are likely to be
required, at least in professional settings
where men are expected to behave assertively
and competitively (e.g., to outdo rivals; Tan-
nen, 1994). As expected, modest men apply-
ing for a managerial job suffered prejudice
relative to identically modest women (i.e.,
they were disliked).
147BACKLASH AGAINST MODEST MEN
More importantly, this effect was reliably
mediated by perceptions that they violated
men’s proscriptions that are aligned with low
status (e.g., weakness and uncertainty)—
qualities that are prohibited for men but accept-
able in women. Furthermore, it was reliably
mediated by perceptions that modest men vio-
lated men’s prescriptions that are strongly
linked to high status (e.g., confidence and am-
bition)—agentic qualities that characterize lead-
ers. Thus, modest men suffered backlash
because men are obliged to engage in status-
enhancing displays, whereas they are penalized
for status-attenuating behavior. By contrast,
women’s prescriptions played no role in back-
lash against modest men. Because communality
rules are status-neutral, these findings provide
discriminant validity for the SIH. Had modest
men been overcharged with being “too nice”
(for a man), results would have contradicted the
SIH because women’s prescriptions do not jus-
tify the gender hierarchy.
We also predicted that modest male appli-
cants would suffer hiring discrimination, be-
cause agentic women suffer economic as well as
social backlash (Rudman & Phelan, 2008).
However, we found no gender differences in
applicants’ hiring recommendations, although
liking and hiring were positively related. Al-
though we can only speculate, it is possible that
this finding represents an inconsistency between
backlash directed against atypical men and
women. Perhaps because men’s status is higher
than women’s, atypical men are afforded a
“benefit of the doubt” and are not as likely to
encounter hiring discrimination as atypical
women. Thus, it is possible that backlash
against atypical men encompasses prejudice
(dislike), but stops short of actual discrimina-
tion (hiring). However, this remains a question
for a future research, which should continue to
examine reactions to atypical men in a variety
of domains.
Future research should also investigate mod-
erators of backlash against modest men. For
example, men who temper their modesty with
displays of agency might avoid being penalized,
much as women who temper their agency with
low dominance are less at risk (Rudman &
Glick, 2001). Moreover, individuals who en-
dorse the gender status quo should be most
likely to use status-related stereotypes to justify
backlash (Rudman et al., 2009). Thus, future
investigations should investigate ways that men
can avoid backlash, as well as individual differ-
ences in the propensity to administer it. Finally,
our research employed college students. Al-
though a recent review found that backlash
against agentic women generalizes to working
professionals (e.g., managers; Rudman &
Phelan, 2008), researchers should ensure that
this is also the case for atypical men by includ-
ing older adults in future studies.
In sum, our findings demonstrate that men
encounter prejudice when they behave atypi-
cally, and raise the possibility that men may
avoid behaving modestly because they risk
backlash for stereotype violation when they do.
In support of the SIH, perceived violations of
both men’s proscriptive and prescriptive traits
helped to explain backlash against atypical men.
Because these gender rules are linked to status,
behaviors that challenge the gender hierarchy
may be censured in men, as well as women. In
essence, gender rules reinforce gender power
differences by constraining men to behave in
ways consistent with high status people while
prohibiting women from high status displays.
Although past research has focused largely on
stereotype-violating women, because men are
also punished when they break the gender rules,
it is critical to understand why counterstereo-
typical behavior in both genders elicits negative
reactions. Indeed, in light of the high costs of
conforming to masculine stereotypes, alleviat-
ing backlash would loosen the restrictions
placed on men, allowing individuals to play by
their own set of rules.
References
Baron, R. M., & Kenny, D. A. (1986). The moderator-
mediator variable distinction in social psychological
research: Conceptual, strategic and statistical consid-
erations. Journal of Personality and Social Psy-
chology, 51, 1173–1182.
Berdahl, J. L. (2007). Harassment based on sex:
Protecting social status in the context of gender
hierarchy. Academy of Management Review, 32,
641– 658.
Bosson, J. K., Prewitt-Freilino, J. L., & Taylor, J. N.
(2005). Role rigidity: A problem of identity mis-
classification? Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology, 89, 552–565.
Burgess, D., & Borgida, E. (1999). Who women are,
who women should be: Descriptive and prescriptive
148 MOSS-RACUSIN, PHELAN, AND RUDMAN
stereotyping in sex discrimination. Psychology, Pub-
lic Policy, and Law, 5, 665– 692.
Burn, S. M., & Ward, Z. A. (2005). Men’s confor-
mity to traditional masculinity and relationship
satisfaction. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 6,
254 –263.
Cherry, F., & Deaux, K. (1978). Fear of success
versus fear of gender-inappropriate behavior. Sex
Roles, 4, 97–101.
Cochran, S. V., & Rabinowitz, F. E. (1999). Men and
depression: Clinical and empirical perspectives.
San Diego: Academic Press.
Collinson, D. L., & Hearn, J. (1996). Breaking the
silence: On men, masculinities and managements.
In D. L. Collinson & J. Hearns (Eds.), Men as
managers, managers as men: Critical perspectives
on men, masculinities and managements (pp.
1–24). London: Sage.
Costrich, N., Feinstein, J., Kidder, L., Maracek, J., &
Pascale, L. (1975). When stereotypes hurt: Three
studies of penalties for sex-role reversals. Journal
of Experimental Social Psychology, 11, 520 –530.
Courtenay, W. H. (2000). Engendering health: A
social constructionist examination of men’s health
beliefs and behaviors. Psychology of Men & Mas-
culinity, 1, 4 –15.
Daubman, K. A., Heatherington, L., & Ahn, A.
(1992). Gender and the self-presentation of aca-
demic achievement. Sex Roles, 27, 187–204.
Derlega, V. J., & Chaiken, A. L. (1976). Norms
affecting self-disclosure in men and women. Jour-
nal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 44,
376 –380.
Diekman, A. B., Goodfriend, W., & Goodwin, S.
(2004). Dynamic stereotypes of power: Perceived
change and stability in gender hierarchies. Sex
Roles, 50, 201–215.
Eagly, A. H. (1987). Sex differences in social behavior:
Asocial-roleinterpretation.New Jersey: Erlbaum.
Eagly, A. H., & Karau, S. J. (2002). Role congruity
theory of prejudice toward female leaders. Psycho-
logical Review, 109, 573–598.
Eagly, A. H., Makhijani, M. G., & Klonsky, B. G.
(1992). Gender and the evaluation of leaders: A
meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 111, 3–22.
Eagly, A. H., Wood, W., & Diekman, A. (2000). Social
role theory of sex differences and similarities: A
current appraisal. In T. Eckes & H. M. Trautner
(Eds.), The developmental social psychology of gen-
der (pp. 123–174). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Edwards, T. (2006). Cultures of masculinity. New
York: Routledge.
Frazier, P. A., Tix, A. P., & Baron, K. E. (2004).
Testing moderator and mediator effects in coun-
seling psychology research. Journal of Counseling
Psychology, 51, 115–134.
Gill, M. J. (2004). When information does not deter
stereotyping: Prescriptive stereotyping can foster
bias under conditions that deter descriptive stereo-
typing. Journal of Experimental Social Psychol-
ogy, 40, 619 – 632.
Glick, P., Lameiras, M., Fiske, S. T., Eckes, T.,
Masser, B., Volpato, C., et al. (2004). Bad but
bold: Ambivalent attitudes toward men predict
gender inequality in 16 nations. Journal of Person-
ality and Social Psychology, 86, 713–728.
Hayes, J. A., & Mahalik, J. R. (2000). Gender role
conflict and psychological distress in male coun-
seling center clients. Psychology of Men & Mas-
culinity, 1, 116 –125.
Heatherington, L., Burns, A. B., & Gustafson, T. B.
(1998). When another stumbles: Gender and self-
presentation to vulnerable others. Sex Roles, 38,
889 –913.
Heilman, M. E., Wallen, A. S., Fuchs, D., &
Tamkins, M. M. (2004). Penalties for success:
Reactions to women who succeed at male gender-
typed tasks. Journal of Applied Psychology, 89,
416 – 427.
Kimmel, M. S. (2004). The gendered society. New
York: Oxford University Press.
Levant, R. F., & Pollack, W. S. (1995). A new psy-
chology of men. New York: Basic Books.
Magovcevic, M., & Addis, M. E. (2008). The mas-
culine depression scale: Development and psycho-
metric evaluation. Psychology of Men & Mascu-
linity, 9, 117–132.
Mahalik, J. R., Lagan, H. D., & Morrison, J. A.
(2006). Health behaviors and masculinity in Ken-
yan and U.S. male college students. Psychology of
Men & Masculinity, 4, 191–202.
Mahalik, J. R., Locke, B. D., Ludlow, L. H., Diemer,
M. A., Scott, R. P. J., Gottfried, M., et al. (2003).
Development of the conformity to masculine
norms inventory. Psychology of Men & Masculin-
ity, 4, 3–25.
Miller, L. C., Cook, L. L., Tsang, J., & Morgan, F.
(1992). Should I brag? Nature and impact of pos-
itive and boastful disclosures for women and men.
Human Communication Research, 18, 364 –399.
Moss-Racusin, C. A., & Rudman, L. A. (2009). Dis-
ruptions in women’s self-promotion: The backlash
avoidance model. Manuscript submitted for publica-
tion.
Parrott, D. J., & Zeichner, A. (2003). Effects of hyper-
masculinity on physical aggression against women.
Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 4, 70 –78.
Phelan, J. E., Moss-Racusin, C. A., & Rudman, L. A.
(2008). Competent yet out in the cold: Shifting
hiring criteria reflect backlash toward agentic
women. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 32,
406 – 413.
Pleck, J. H. (1981). The myth of masculinity. Cam-
bridge, MA: MIT Press.
149BACKLASH AGAINST MODEST MEN
Pollack, W. S. (1998). Real boys: Rescuing our sons
from the myths of boyhood. New York: Henry Holt
and Company.
Prentice, D. A., & Carranza, E. (2002). What women
and men should be, shouldn’t be, are allowed to be,
and don’t have to be: The contents of prescriptive
gender stereotypes. Psychology of Women Quar-
terly, 26, 269 –281.
Prime, J., & Moss-Racusin, C. A. (2009). Engaging
men in gender initiatives: What change agents
need to know. New York: Catalyst.
Real, T. (2000). I don’t want to talk about it: Over-
coming the secret legacy of male depression. New
York: Simon & Schuster.
Reidy, D. E., Shirk, S. D., Sloan, C. A., & Zeichner,
A. (2009). Men who aggress against women: Ef-
fects of feminine gender role violation on physical
aggression in hypermasculine men. Psychology of
Men & Masculinity, 10, 1–12.
Ridgeway, C. L. (2001). Gender, status, and leader-
ship. Journal of Social Issues, 57, 627– 655.
Rudman, L. A. (1998). Self-promotion as a risk fac-
tor for women: The costs and benefits of counter-
stereotypical impression management. Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 629 – 645.
Rudman, L. A., & Fairchild, K. (2004). Reactions to
counterstereotypic behavior: The role of backlash
in cultural stereotype maintenance. Journal of Per-
sonality and Social Psychology, 87, 157–176.
Rudman, L. A., & Glick, P. (1999). Feminized man-
agement and backlash toward agentic women: The
hidden costs to women of a kinder, gentler image
of middle managers. Journal of Personality and
Social Psychology, 77, 1004 –1010.
Rudman, L. A., & Glick, P. (2001). Prescriptive
gender stereotypes and backlash toward agentic
women. Journal of Social Issues, 57, 732–762.
Rudman, L. A., & Phelan, J. E. (2008). Backlash
effects for disconfirming gender stereotypes in or-
ganizations. In A. P. Brief & B. M. Staw (Eds.),
Research in organizational behavior (Vol. 4, pp.
61–79). New York, Elsevier.
Rudman, L. A., Phelan, J. E., Moss-Racusin, C. A., &
Nauts, S. (2009). Status incongruity and backlash
effects: Defending the gender hierarchy motivates
prejudice toward female leaders. Manuscript sub-
mitted for publication.
Sobel, M. E. (1982). Asymptotic confidence intervals
for indirect effects in structural equation models.
In S. Leinhardt (Ed.), Sociological methodology
(pp. 290 –312). Washington, DC: American Socio-
logical Association.
Tannen, D. (1994). Talking from 9 to 5: Women and
men in the workplace: Language, sex, and power.
New York: Morrow.
Williams, J. E., & Best, D. L. (1990). Measuring sex
stereotypes: A multination study (Rev. ed.). New-
bury Park, CA: Sage.
150 MOSS-RACUSIN, PHELAN, AND RUDMAN
Appendix
Sample Questions and Responses From Applicant Scripts
Q1: What are your technical skills?
Response. Well, I’ve taken several com-
puter classes where we wrote programs using
most of the major languages. And I’m familiar
with Windows and Mac operating systems. I’m
also pretty experienced using Windows pro-
grams. I think I’m pretty good at identifying
computer problems and troubleshooting. Most
of the time people have printer problems and
those aren’t too hard to fix. So I think I’ve got
some pretty good technical skills to offer.
Q2: How do you propose to keep up to
date with technological advances?
Response. Well, I know the local commu-
nity college offers courses. That’s the way I first
got interested in this field, taking a web-design
course there. They have some really good pro-
fessors. And I’m certain your company offers
tech-related courses or seminars to all your em-
ployees. So I’d do my best to take every oppor-
tunity that comes along to keep up on the latest
technology.
Q3: Are you the kind of person who
performs well under pressure?
Response. Well, pressure certainly isn’t
my favorite thing. Maybe it’s necessary some-
times, but if it’s not, then I don’t go out of my
way to put any extra pressure on myself. I
remember in college I was the editor of the
school paper and it kind of got to me having to
face a deadline all the time. I guess I like
writing best when I have a lot of time to develop
my ideas.
Q4: Are you a good self-starter? Describe
an example where you took the initiative on
a project.
Response. Sure, I’d consider myself a
self-starter, but first I like to know that I’m
going in the right direction. Give an example?
Well, one summer I designed a website for
the bookstore I was working at. They were a
small, independent store, and I thought a web-
site could help their business. I suggested it to
my boss and she was interested, so we brain-
stormed some ideas and I asked the other
employees and some of the customers what
they’d like to see in a website. In the end, I
think it turned out pretty well.
Q5: What kind of salary to do you expect?
Response. Well, if I should be lucky
enough get the position, I’m sure you’d offer
me a fair wage. You know, whatever the going
rate is for someone with my skills and experi-
ence.
Received March 25, 2009
Revision received September 26, 2009
Accepted September 28, 2009 !
151BACKLASH AGAINST MODEST MEN
... Within particular cultures, there are often gender stereotypes (e.g., behaviors, characteristics, or attributes) that are deemed to be more normative and/or desirable for one gender than another [1,2]. Adults in the United States who violate gender stereotypes often experience social and/or economic penalties, commonly referred to as backlash [3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12]. For example, women who violate stereotypes by self-promoting on a job interview are less likely to be hired than identical men, while men who violate stereotypes by being self-effacing were less likely to be hired than identical women [8]. ...
... These results build upon a growing body of work demonstrating that gender stereotypes can have profound consequences for men as well as women (for a discussion, see [4]). For example, men appear to encounter backlash when they violate gender stereotypes by expressing interest in female gender-typed careers [5], behave modestly on a job interview [6], or disclose their emotions [31]. Further, recent work has shown that adults' reactions to 3-year-old boys who violate gender stereotypes may be particularly harsh relative to same-aged girls who violate gender stereotypes [13]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Gender stereotypes shape individuals’ behaviors, expectations, and perceptions of others. However, little is known about the content of gender stereotypes about people of different ages (e.g., do gender stereotypes about 1-year-olds differ from those about older individuals?). In our pre-registered study, 4,598 adults rated either the typicality of characteristics (to assess descriptive stereotypes), or the desirability of characteristics (to assess prescriptive and proscriptive stereotypes) for targets who differed in gender and age. Between-subjects, we manipulated target gender (boy/man vs. girl/woman) and target age (1, 4, 7, 10, 13, 16, or 35). From this, we generated a normed list of descriptive, prescriptive, and proscriptive gender-stereotyped characteristics about people across the early developmental timespan. We make this archive, as well as our raw data, available to other researchers. We also present preliminary findings, demonstrating that some characteristics are consistently ungendered (e.g., challenges authority), others are gender-stereotypic across the early developmental timespan (e.g., males from age 1 to 35 tend to be dirty), and still others change over development (e.g., girls should be submissive, but only around age 10). Implications for gender stereotyping theory—as well as targets of gender stereotyping, across the lifespan—are discussed.
... Indeed, seeing a male "feminising" himself is considered more dangerous because their "feminine" behaviour lowers their status by undermining the gender hierarchy (Berdahl, 2007;Rudman et al., 2012;Moss-Racusin, 2014;Sullivan et al., 2018). Indeed, boys are punished more than girls for exhibiting gender non-conforming behaviour (Moss-Racusin, 2014;Sullivan et al., 2018) and for non-adherence to gender rules (Moss-Racusin et al., 2010). I remember when I was a child . . . ...
Article
Purpose Despite repeated attempts to implement gender education in schools, numerous forms of resistance still persist, maintaining the current gender order, especially in Italy. Thus, in this paper, the authors focus on the practices of resistance opposed to gender education in kindergarten. Design/methodology/approach This study takes a qualitative approach, and data collection was conducted using ethnographic observations, a focus group and an in-depth interview. The authors used critical discourse analysis (cf: Fairclough's three-dimensional model). Findings As per our findings, teachers' resistance is attributed to “hegemonic masculinity” and “essentialism”. In the case of “hegemonic masculinity”, the discourses emphasise that male feminisation is a threat and female masculinisation is harmless. On the “essentialist” side, teachers' discourses focus on the segregation of genders that justify naturalised gender differences. Practical implications This study emphasises the need for specific training for figures as important and authoritative as teachers. In addition to the training of teachers who currently work in kindergarten, it is also necessary to address the issue at the institutional level, adding to the university courses the teaching of specific subjects related to gender. Social implications This paper offers causes for reflection on a profession that has profound implications in our society and about the power of resistance to implementing gender education. The implications are discussed. Originality/value Different data sources are used simultaneously to disclose discursive practices of resistance to gender education in Italy.
... Candidates were rated on their perceived competence (i.e., skill, capability), hireability (i.e., job fit, suitability), and likeability (i.e., personality, professional manner) on an 11-point Likert-type scale from 0 (not at all/not at all likely) to 10 (very much/very likely). Each of these scales is comprised of three items previously validated in a series of hiring studies [101][102][103]. Average scores for each scale were calculated from participant responses to each of the scale's three items, with higher scores indicating greater perceived qualification for the job described. ...
Article
Full-text available
Virtual perspective taking can reduce unconscious bias and increase empathy and prosocial behavior toward individuals who are marginalized based on group stereotypes such as age, race, or socioeconomic status. However, the question remains whether this approach might reduce implicit gender bias, and the degree to which virtual immersion contributes to behavioral modulation following perspective taking tasks is unknown. Accordingly, we investigate the role of virtual perspective taking for binary gender using an online platform (Study 1) and immersive virtual reality (Study 2). Female and male undergraduates performed a simulated interview while virtually represented by an avatar that was either congruent or incongruent with their own gender. All participants rated a male and a female candidate on competence, hireability, likeability, empathy, and interpersonal closeness and then chose one of these two equivalently qualified candidates to hire for a laboratory assistant position in the male dominated industry of information technology. Online perspective taking did not reveal a significant influence of avatar gender on candidate ratings or candidate choice, whereas virtual reality perspective taking resulted in significant changes to participant behavior following exposure to a gender-incongruent avatar (e.g., male embodied as female), such that men showed preference for the female candidate and women showed preference for the male candidate. Although between-group differences in candidate ratings were subtle, rating trends were consistent with substantial differences in candidate choice, and this effect was greater for men. Compared to an online approach, virtual reality perspective taking appears to exert greater influence on acute behavioral modulation for gender bias due to its ability to fully immerse participants in the experience of (temporarily) becoming someone else, with empathy as a potential mechanism underlying this phenomenon.
... Although potency correlates positively with agency and negatively with communion, it captures a specific subset of traits with relevance for gender proscriptions: Men are proscribed low potency traits such as weakness and naivete, and women are proscribed high potency traits such as dominance and arrogance. According to the status incongruity hypothesis (Moss-Racusin et al., 2010;Rudman et al., 2012b), this is because potency traits directly implicate status. Thus, men ought not display weakness, and women ought not display dominance, because such traits are incongruous with men's and women's placement within the gender hierarchy. ...
Article
Full-text available
Precarious manhood theory posits a double standard in gender rules such that prescriptions (“shoulds”) and proscriptions (“should nots”) are endorsed more strongly for men than for women. Here, we tested this hypothesis by asking whether people view agency as more desirable in men than communion is in women, and weakness as less desirable in men than dominance is in women. Data from college undergraduates in 62 countries (N = 27,343) indicated that: (1) measures of agency, communion, weakness, and dominance are psychometrically comparable across countries; (2) prescriptions (agency for men, communion for women) are variable across countries, whereas proscriptions (weakness for men, dominance for women) appear universal; (3) double standards in prescriptions (men’s agency as more desirable than women’s communion) are larger in countries lower in gender equality and human development, whereas double standards in proscriptions (men’s weakness as less desirable than women’s dominance) do not covary with country-level factors; and (4) these patterns are moderated by participant gender in nuanced ways, and are robust to control by individual-level gender beliefs. Discussion considers the theoretical and practical significance of these findings for understanding how young adults – as cultural agents of gender socialization – hold men to asymmetrically rigid gender rules.
... It is known from research that, when women violate proscriptive stereotypes by being non-role conforming (e.g., dominant), they were less liked and, therefore, less likely to be hired, even though they were viewed as competent [75]. However, men are also aware of proscriptive gender stereotypes [78]. Male prospective teachers rejected weakness in men more than female prospective teachers. ...
Article
Full-text available
Math has a strong gender-related image, even among teachers. As teachers hold beliefs about their work, their role, their subject, and their students, they shape girls’ and boys’ mathematical beliefs and attitudes. Research during the past 20 years has shown that teachers’ gender beliefs about mathematics significantly favor boys, thereby reinforcing girls’ low math ability self-concept. Still, there is a lack of studies that examine teachers’ gender-related beliefs based on their underlying assumptions. Our study provides the first empirical evidence of the relationship between general gender stereotypes and math stereotypes. To this end, we used partial correlation and MANCOVA to analyze data from an online survey in 2019/2020 conducted in Switzerland (195 women, 80 men) as part of a cross-cultural comparison study. We therefore created a differentiated profile of prospective teachers by examining their beliefs about their self-image, their image of men and women in society, their essentialist and gender role ideology beliefs, and their math stereotypes. Then, we linked prospective teachers’ beliefs about gender (based on 48 characteristics) to their beliefs about mathematics and about girls’ and boys’ competencies in math. The extensive analysis provides knowledge about prospective teachers and is particularly important for teacher education.
Article
The Filipino family dynamics have evolved because of globalization and migration. This has changed the traditional family norms in the Philippines. As a result, the number of Stay-At-Home-Fathers (SAHFs) has increased, with fathers becoming primary givers and mothers becoming breadwinners. A phenomenological qualitative study was utilized in this study to understand the lived experiences of SAHFs focused on their life history, present experiences, and their reflections on hopes and aspirations. Reasons for becoming a SAHF are largely based on the socioeconomic status of the family and the readiness to end the cycle of poverty. Though there is an increased number of SAHFs, they continue to face isolation, stereotypes, and stigma. They expressed a desire for greater appreciation and understanding of their parental and emotional lives as fathers while finding balance in their new role and contribution to the family.
Article
The papers in this Special Issue Part I “Revisioning, Rethinking, Restructuring Gender at Work: Quo Vadis Gender Stereotypes?” focus on the current state of gender inequality, particularly stereotypes. We present studies showing that differences in gender stereotypes still exist, confirm disadvantages for women in male‐dominated roles and sectors and when the employment sector is not specified, but also disadvantages for men in female‐dominated roles and sectors. In contrast to this general trend, one paper in Part II of this Special Issue found a preference for women over men as job candidates in their study. Incongruence emerged as a striking common theme to explain these gender differences, whereby some studies focused on the perceived incongruence from the actor's perspective and how external factors contribute to these perceptions, whereas others looked at the perceived incongruence from the observer's perspective. We summarize the papers and briefly discuss the key points of Part I at the end of this editorial.
Article
Compared to their representation in the workforce, women are significantly underrepresented in leadership roles in the United States. Whereas substantial research attention has been paid to the role of bias and discrimination in perpetuating this gap, less has been devoted to exploring the gender difference in aspirations for these roles. We draw from social role theory to hypothesize that men have higher leadership aspirations than women and test our hypothesis using a meta-analysis of 174 U.S. published and unpublished samples (N = 138,557) spanning six decades. The results reveal that there is a small but significant gender difference in the predicted direction (Hedge's g = 0.22). Notably, the gender difference has not narrowed significantly over time, and appears to widen at college age and among working adults within male-dominated industries. Our results also suggest that the process and dissemination of research in this domain exhibits bias. We discuss the implications of our conclusions for future research.
Article
Power-seeking women incur social penalties known as backlash, yet research has identified two motive bases for leadership: power and status. Across five studies (N = 1683) using samples of working professionals, MBA students, undergraduates, and online participants, we investigate perceptions of individuals with varying motives for power and status. We uncover the motive for status is more congruent with feminine stereotypes compared to the power motive (Study 1), and that women who desire status are less likely to incur backlash compared to women who desire power (Study 2). We find that women who desire power appear to have greater perceived leadership potential compared to women who desire only status. However, women who desire both power and status benefit, as they are perceived as highly leaderlike but incur less backlash than women who only desire power (Study 3). We detect support for the novel “Status Compensation Effect” in experimental (Studies 1–3) and naturalistic settings (Studies 4–5), such that the negative social consequences typically incurred by power-seeking women (i.e., backlash) are reduced for women who simultaneously desire status. The current research highlights how women's desires for power and status serve competing functions in impacting their likelihood of incurring backlash.
Article
Full-text available
Breaking the Silence - David L Collinson and Jeff Hearn On Men, Masculinities and Managements Masculinities and Managements in the Transition from Factory Hands to Sentimental Workers - Wendy Hollway The Gender of Bureaucracy - David Morgan Technocracy, Patriarchy and Management - Beverly H Burris The Best Is Yet to Come? Searching for Embodiment in Managerial Work - Deborah Kerfoot and David Knights Entrepreneurialism and Paternalism in Australian Management - Rosslyn Reed A Gender Critique for the 'Self-Made' Man Entrepreneurialism, Masculinities and the 'Self-Made' Man - Kate Mulholland Quiet Whispers... Men Accounting for Women, West to East - Cheryl R Lehman Multinational Masculinities and European Bureaucracies - Alison E Woodward Gendering and Evaluating Dynamics - Patricia Yancey Martin Men, Masculinities and Managements 'Seduction and Succession' - Michael Roper Circuits of Homosocial Desire in Management Managing Universities - Craig Prichard Is It Men's Work?
Article
Full-text available
In this article, we attempt to distinguish between the properties of moderator and mediator variables at a number of levels. First, we seek to make theorists and researchers aware of the importance of not using the terms moderator and mediator interchangeably by carefully elaborating, both conceptually and strategically, the many ways in which moderators and mediators differ. We then go beyond this largely pedagogical function and delineate the conceptual and strategic implications of making use of such distinctions with regard to a wide range of phenomena, including control and stress, attitudes, and personality traits. We also provide a specific compendium of analytic procedures appropriate for making the most effective use of the moderator and mediator distinction, both separately and in terms of a broader causal system that includes both moderators and mediators. (46 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Full-text available
In this book, Joseph Pleck examines and analyzes the full body of research literature on the male role that has appeared since the 1930s and subjects it to a devastating critique. He identifies the components of the "male sex role paradigm" which has been the basis of research for the past forty years, and notes numerous instances of blatant misrepresentation of data, twisted reinterpretations of disconfirming results, misogyny, homophobia, and class bias. He proposes a new theory, the "sex role strain paradigm," offers a reinterpretation of sex role stereotyping, and a critique of research by sociobiologists that allegedly demonstrates a biological basis for male aggression.
Article
A role congruity theory of prejudice toward female leaders proposes that perceived incongruity between the female gender role and leadership roles leads to 2 forms of prejudice: (a) perceiving women less favorably than men as potential occupants of leadership roles and (b) evaluating behavior that fulfills the prescriptions of a leader role less favorably when it is enacted by a woman. One consequence is that attitudes are less positive toward female than male leaders and potential leaders. Other consequences are that it is more difficult for women to become leaders and to achieve success in leadership roles. Evidence from varied research paradigms substantiates that these consequences occur, especially in situations that heighten perceptions of incongruity between the female gender role and leadership roles.
Article
A New Psychology of Men. Ronald F. Levant & William S. Pollack (Eds.). New York: Basic Books. 1995. 402 pp. Hardcover ISBN 0-46508656-X. $40.00. There was a time when male psychology was seen as the model of health, and female psychology was seen as pathological. Assertive, active masculinity was contrasted with passive, dependent femininity. But those days are gone. As Pollack (1995) states, "The monuments built of men, by men, and for men are tumbling.... Even their virtues are suspected as vices." Although the pace of change is slow, men's roles at home and at work are being redefined, and the psychology of men-how they develop and how they function psychologically as adults-is also changing. Perhaps the rate of change in men's roles crossed a threshold in the 1990s, triggering a surge of new interest in men's needs, their responsibilities, and the roles they have entered in post-industrial, post-feminist, post-modern America. For example, the 1995 Million Man March in Washington, DC, brought attention to African American men, along with a public debate about their roles in families, the economy, and the community. Several national conferences have made fatherhood the central focus for the year. National debates have centered on the responsibilities of single and divorced fathers, as well as the rights of gay men. Robert Bly's Men's Movement continues to attract new warriors, despite the attacks by critics. On many fronts, men and women are actively redefining what it means to be male. To understand the changes in men and to become current with some of the most solid research programs aimed at both the old style masculinity and the emerging new psychology of men, Levant and Pollack's edited volume is essential reading. It is a readable collection of theoretical papers on male development and psychological functioning, reviews of research on men, clinical approaches to men's changing roles, as well as analyses of the diverse developmental experiences of minority males. The papers present a refreshing social-scientific approach to men's roles, without the ideological cliches of either radical feminists or neo-masculinists. The chapters document a 15-year program of theory development, research, and applications spawned by Joseph Pleck's (1981) gender rolestrain paradigm. Pleck's theory was one of the earliest attempts to integrate the emerging critical views of traditional male roles, and it laid the groundwork for the social constructionist perspectives on gender roles that emerged in the 1980s. He argued that the traditional ideals of masculinity-which include the demands for achievement, aggressiveness, toughness, sexual prowess, and psychological autonomy-were bad for men's health. First, the standards were inconsistent with human needs and were so unachievable that many men felt they never lived up to them. Second, in trying to live up to the self-destructive standards, many boys and young men went through traumatizing experiences that damaged them psychologically. …
Article
A preponderance of anecdotal evidence suggests that men manifest depression differently than women and that this atypical symptom presentation is even more evident in men who adhere to restrictive masculine norms (Cochran & Rabinowitz, 2000; Real, 1997). The aim of this study was to develop a self-report assessment instrument, the Masculine Depression Scale (MDS), which captures these atypical symptoms of depression. One hundred and two men who experienced a recent stressful life event were asked to complete measures of prototypic depression, masculine norm conformity, and our measure of masculine depression. Factor analyses yielded a two-factor solution: internalizing and externalizing symptoms. Externalizing symptoms were moderately correlated with measures of depression and masculine norm adherence, while internalizing symptoms were highly correlated with measures of depression but unrelated to masculine norm adherence. Men who adhered strongly to masculine norms were more likely to endorse externalizing symptoms on the MDS than prototypic symptoms of depression. The findings suggest that the MDS may be capturing aspects of depression associated with masculine gender socialization that are not captured by existing measures. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
This article presents a four-category framework to characterize the contents of prescriptive gender stereotypes. The framework distinguishes between prescriptions and proscriptions that are intensified by virtue of one's gender, and those that are relaxed by virtue of one's gender. Two studies examined the utility of this framework for characterizing prescriptive gender stereotypes in American society (Study 1) and in the highly masculine context of Princeton University (Study 2). The results demonstrated the persistence of traditional gender prescriptions in both contexts, but also revealed distinct areas of societal vigilance and leeway for each gender. In addition, they showed that women are seen more positively, relative to societal standards, than are men. We consider the implications of this framework for research on reactions to gender stereotype deviants and sex discrimination.