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date: 30 June 2022

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter reviews the conditions and processes that give rise to gender discrimination in the workplace, impeding women’s career advancement. It explores how descriptive and prescriptive gender stereotypes—through distinct mechanisms—promote inequities in the selection, promotion, and evaluation of women. The paper examines how descriptive gender stereotypes, which describe what men and women are like, encourage gender discriminatory behavior by contributing to the expectation that women are ill equipped to succeed in traditionally male positions. It also considers how prescriptive gender stereotypes, which prescribe what men and women should be like, encourage gender discriminatory behavior by spurring disapproval and social penalties for women who behave in stereotype-inconsistent ways—whether explicitly or by merely being successful in roles considered to be male-typed. The chapter discusses existing research, considers the conditions that minimize or exacerbate gender discrimination, and identifies questions for future study.

Keywords: gender, discrimination, stereotype, bias, descriptive, prescriptive, norm, workplace, sex

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