“I’m not bossy, I’m the boss.”
So proclaims Beyoncé in a video in support of the #banbossy campaign. The campaign highlights how when little boys take charge, they’re often praised for being a “leader.” But when little girls do, they’re more likely to be scolded for being too “bossy.”
And it matters for grownups, too. Research and media stories abound with examples of how gender stereotypes disadvantage women leaders. A woman manager is less likely to be taken seriously by the people who work for her.
Our new study puts a twist on this narrative. Gender bias doesn’t merely disadvantage women, it also can disadvantage men. The reason? We don’t just stereotype men and women. We stereotype jobs.
Firefighters and nurses
Many jobs in the economy are gender-stereotyped. Firefighting is thought of as a man’s job, whereas nursing is thought of as women’s work.
Previous studies have shown that these stereotypes – which shape our expectations about whether a man or a woman is a better “fit” for a given job – are powerful because they can bias a whole host of employment outcomes. For instance, they influence the chances that a man or a woman will apply for the job, that he or she will be hired, the pay each would receive and even performance evaluations that determine promotions.