Should Women Applicants “Man Up” for Traditionally Masculine Fields? Effectiveness of Two Verbal Identity Management Strategies

Source: Jennifer L. Wessel, Nao Hagiwara, Ann Marie Ryan, Christine M. Y. Kermond, Psychology of Women Quarterly, Published online before print July 25, 2014
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From the abstract:
Due to gender-based bias, women can be at a disadvantage when trying to enter into traditionally masculine fields (e.g., engineering) or job positions (e.g., top management). The present study examined the effectiveness of two verbal gender presentation strategies that women might be able to use to improve their evaluations in traditionally masculine hiring contexts: verbalizing agentic traits (describing oneself in terms of stereotypically masculine traits) and gender acknowledgment. In a laboratory study, 674 participants evaluated either a female or a male applicant applying for a traditionally masculine position in a traditionally masculine field (engineering manager). Results showed that verbalizing one’s agentic traits resulted in favorable fit evaluations for the female applicant but not the male applicant. Further, acknowledging one’s gender resulted in negative personal evaluations for both female and male applicants. Our findings suggest that applicants’ decisions concerning how to manage their gender presentation can influence how they are evaluated and that women seeking entry into traditionally masculine occupations may want to describe themselves in agentic terms and avoid acknowledging their gender.