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career research blog

The latest career research insights to grow your career

Filtering by Tag: gender

How to get more women into STEM fields and more men into behavioral science?

Anja Ghetta

When looking at scientific careers women are overrepresented in behavioral science and men in physical science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). According to a U.S. study, behavioral science corresponds more to characteristics aiming at maintaining relationships and working to the service of others (called communion), which correspond more closely to gender stereotypes of women. STEM fields align with characteristics focusing on autonomy and self-promotion (called agency), which are regarded as more stereotypical of men. The surprising insight of this study: The more women view STEM fields to be communal, the more STEM courses they complete and the more men view behavioral science to be agentic, the more behavioral science courses they complete.

Stout, J. G., Grunberg, V. A., & Ito, T. A. (2016). Gender roles and stereotypes about science careers help explain women and men’s science pursuits. Sex Roles, 75, 490-499. doi:10.1007/s11199-016-0647-5

How career preferences reflect gender stereotypes

Anja Ghetta

An Israeli study investigated how career-decisions depend on gender. When women and men named their aspired occupations, women preferred professions that were more “feminine” and men more “masculine” ones. Similarly, when study participants rated how important different aspects of work were to them (e.g., working indoors, working with numbers and figures) and then matched those job aspects with suitable occupations, men’s aspired occupations were still more “masculine” than women’s. However, these indirect occupational preferences expressed by ratings of work aspects were less gender-typical than the directly named aspired occupations. This suggests that gender bias in professional aspirations can be reduced when focusing on work aspects (e.g., autonomy, field of work, working outdoors) instead of job titles. 

Readers of our blog might also be intereested to check out a free career decision-making platform that is based on the work of the authors of the above presented study:

Gadassi, R., & Gati, I. (2009). The effect of gender stereotypes on explicit and implicit career preferences. The Counseling Psychologist, 37(6), 902-922. 

How to overcome gender stereotype threat?

Anja Ghetta

Working as a woman in a male-dominated field can lead to stress due to gender stereotype threat and can thereby hinder success and participation at work. A Canadian study offers two promising interventions based on listening to quotes regarding social belonging and affirmation. The interventions eliminated grade point average differences between men and women, and resulted in a higher confidence of women in their abilities to cope with stressors as well as a more optimistic attitude regarding future success.


Walton, G. M., Logel, C., Peach, J. M., Spencer, S. J., & Zanna, M. P. (2015). Two Brief Interventions to Mitigate a "Chilly Climate" Transform Women's Experience, Relationships, and Achievement in Engineering. Journal of Educational Psychology, 107(2), 468-485, doi:10.1037/a0037461.

The glass ceiling is still there...

Noemi Nagy

The glass ceiling effect describes the male predominance in executive positions. Researchers from Canada now investigated young business women’s attitudes regarding the glass ceiling. They found that women perceive the glass ceiling in gender-stereotype threatening ways, blame their personal limitations and work-family choices for its existence and sense a range of obstacles to their advancement. It is interesting to note, that participants predominantly restricted choices regarding career and family to favor one over the other, whereas only a few participants expressed a desire for work-family balance.

Ezzedeen, S. R., Budworth, M. H., & Baker, S. D. (2015). The glass ceiling and executive careers still an issue for pre-career women. Journal of Career Development, 42(5), 355-369.

Empowerment through female vanguards in masculine professions?

Anja Ghetta

A study from the United States examined how the exposure to gender roles in the field of work are related to the self-view of women as a leader and to their interest in masculine professions. When exposed to traditional job incumbents (e.g. male surgeon or female nurse) compared to non-traditional (e.g. female pilot or male flight attendant), women perceived themselves more as a leader. Compared to a control group, exposure to both, non- and traditional job incumbents, is related to less interest in masculine and more interest in feminine occupations. The researchers explain these counterintuitive findings by threatening upward comparison in case of successful females in masculine, high-status professions or by highlighting possible backlashes women face in male-dominated fields.

Rudman, L. A., & Phelan, J. E. (2010). The effect of priming gender roles on women's implicit gender beliefs and career aspirations. Social Psychology, 41(3), 192-202. doi:10.1027/1864-9335/a000027

Androgynous people are most confident in their career decision making

Anja Ghetta

Self-efficacy in the context of career choice means how confident someone is in successfully selecting a career. Choosing a suitable career represents a complex task which requires making plans, coping with setbacks, and knowledge about oneself as well as about occupations. According to a Turkish study, androgynous high school students with both feminine and masculine personality traits were most confident in their career decision making. So called undifferentiated students with little feminine and masculine characteristics showed the lowest confidence. Self-efficacy of mainly feminine or masculine students lied between the levels of androgynous and undifferentiated students.

Bolat, N., & Odaci, H. (2016). High school final year students' career decision-making self-efficacy, attachement styles and gender role orientations. Current Psychology. Online publication. doi:10.1007/s12144-016-9409-3

Gender discrimination can lead to career dissatisfaction in high aspiring women

Anja Ghetta

Subjective career success means how satisfied you are with your whole work achievements. This evaluation is related to several important organizational outcomes like retention or performance. According to a French study, perceived gender discrimination is linked to lower subjective career success for women. Satisfaction is especially low when faced with gender discrimination if women strive for a management position, value technical specialization, place high importance on work-life-balance, or have a low need for employment security or autonomy.

Relations Industrielles / Industrial Relations

Male employees rate only female narcissistic leaders as less effective

Andreas Hirschi

Female leaders who show narcissistic tendencies are rated as less effective by their male subordinates, according to a study conducted in the Netherlands. Narcissists typically show a lack of concern for other people, arrogance, and a sense of self-grandiosity. The authors of the study assume that these features violate female gender stereotypes and thereby lead to a less favorable evaluation of narcissistic female leaders. Interestingly, male narcissistic leaders received no penalty in their subordinates' evaluation.  

Applied Psychology

Gender and personal family history influence retirement decisions

Claire Johnston

A study conducted in Switzerland found that an individual’s family and employment history influence the timing of retirement. According to this study, women who experienced an early marriage and childbirth are more likely to have experienced career interruptions, part-time positions, and less chance to invest in private pension funds, resulting in less opportunity to leave the labour market early. Additionally, being single or divorced also makes it more difficult to retire early. Thus, individuals must consider their personal family history when engaging in retirement planning.

Work, Aging, and Retirement

Women at increased risk for work-family conflict

Noemi Nagy

Family centrality has always been at a high level for women. However, over the last years their levels of work centrality rose to become as high as men’s, according to a recent study from Israel. In the past, men showed higher work centrality than women while women were more likely to show high family centrality and lower work centrality. The current rise of work centrality reflects an increasing potential for more work-family conflict for women due to increased demands in multiple roles.

Sharabi, M. (2015). Life domain preferences among women and men in Israel: The effects of socio-economic variables. International Labour Review, 154. 519–536.