gender stereotyping hasn't improved since the 80s, says study

Despite making power moves in the workforce and on the sports field, a new study paints a pretty bleak portrait of the stereotypes women still face.

by Hannah Ongley
Mar 11 2016, 6:20pm

Considering how much things have changed in workout gear, internet connections, and portable music players since 1983, you'd think we would have made some progress when it comes to gender stereotypes. Well, you'd think wrong, according to a bleak new study published in the Psychology of Women Quarterly this week. 

Aptly titled, "The Times They Are a-Changing... or Are They Not?" the new research revisits a study from the early 80s. Both examined the gender stereotypes held by American college students by asking them to rate the likelihood that a typical man or woman has a set of gendered characteristics, such as role behaviors or occupations. The psychologists found that the students surveyed 30 years later still "perceive strong differences between men and women on stereotype components today, as they did in the past." 

The only gender stereotype that didn't show stability was female gender roles. Yay, right? Well... this component actually showed a significant increase in the stereotyping of female gender roles. "These results attest to the durability of basic stereotypes about how men and women are perceived to differ," the researchers note, "despite changes in the participation and acceptance of women and men in nontraditional domains." Long live the patriarchy.

This is no reason to throw in the towel and admit defeat. The researchers do actually concede that "the work on intersectionality makes a strong case for the importance of considering the intersections of various categories, both in terms of self-defined identities and in terms of stereotypes." The binary categories "may be limited in their generalizability," while also ignoring the dual stereotyping faced by people who are, say, a minority and a woman. The latest study was also carried out in 2014, which predates the (hopefully) fresh slate of game-changing conversations ignited by women such as Emily BrowningLady Gaga, and Rowan Blanchard

Still, it's clear the findings aren't exactly rosy. "Because gender stereotypes are apparently so deeply embedded in our society," the study concludes, "those in a position to evaluate women and men, as well as women and men themselves, need to be constantly vigilant to the possible influence of stereotypes on their judgments, choices, and actions." Word.


Text Hannah Ongley
Image Mad Max (2015)