Washington, Dec 8 (ANI): A new study, which examined perceptions of people in high-powered jobs, has found that they are likely to be judged more harshly for mistakes if they are in a job that is not normally associated with their gender.
The researchers suspected that people who have a job not normally associated with their gender would be under closer scrutiny and more likely to get in trouble for mistakes.
"Any mistakes that they make, even very minor ones, could be magnified and seen as even greater mistakes," said Victoria Brescoll, a psychological scientist at Yale University and first author of the study.
In the 2008 presidential election, a woman came close to getting a nomination, and an African-American man ended up President of the United States-a job formerly reserved for white men.
But just getting a job with high status isn't enough, said Brescoll, adding you have to keep it also.
Brescoll and her colleagues, Erica Dawson and Eric Luis Uhlmann, came up with a list of high-status jobs that are normally held by one gender or the other. This was easy for men, but actually quite difficult for women. he one they came up with was the president of a woman's college.
For this study, they compared that to a police chief, a traditionally male role. They pre-tested the jobs to make sure people perceived them as having similar status and also being associated with one gender or the other.
About 200 volunteers read a scenario in which either a police chief or a women's college president made a mistake, sending not enough police officers (or campus security officers) to respond to a protest.
The gender of the police chief or college president varied; different people read different texts. Then they were asked how they judged the person who made the mistake.
People who were the non-stereotypical gender were judged more harshly; the volunteers saw them as less competent and deserving of less status.
The same was true in other tests with a female CEO of an aerospace engineering firm and a chief judge.
"There is an effect called the glass cliff," said Brescoll.
Like the glass ceiling that keeps women from rising higher, the glass cliff is what counter-stereotypical individuals (such as female police chiefs) are in danger of falling from.
"You don't really know, when you're a woman in a high status leadership role, how long you're going to hang onto it," said Brescoll.
"You might just fall off at any point. Our study points to one way that this may happen for women in high-powered male roles," she added.
The study is published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. (ANI)