Event Title

Gender Bias is Here to Stay? Investigating How Subtle Changes in Language can Influence Gender Stereotyped Occupations

Location

CSU Ballroom

Start Date

9-4-2012 1:00 PM

End Date

9-4-2012 2:30 PM

Student's Major

Psychology

Student's College

Social and Behavioral Sciences

Mentor's Name

Karla Lassonde

Mentor's Department

Psychology

Mentor's College

Social and Behavioral Sciences

Description

With women entering all areas of the workforce, traditional male-biased job titles are outdated. However, there is a strong persistence of gender in job titles. These terms are still prevalent in media outlets and influence our perspectives about job appropriateness.

Lassonde and O’Brien (in press) have demonstrated that gender-neutral language (e.g., firefighter) contains bias that women are less appropriate for these positions. When participants read text describing a person holding a stereotypically male-gendered occupation, read time was slower if the person holding the position was female. Slower reading times suggest comprehension difficulty. The goal of the current project was to investigate the impact of male- and female-biased adjectives, in addition to gender-neutral language, on reading comprehension. For example, is a female-biased adjective combined with a male-biased occupation sufficient to indicate the gender? If so, then readers would no longer have difficulty when they learn that the person holding the occupation is female. Reading comprehension was indicated by the time it took participants to read target sentences within a series of passages. Combining a gender- neutral title with a female-biased adjective reduced some but not all of the comprehension difficulty on the target sentence. Male- biased adjectives had the opposite effect, reinforcing the stereotype that both male-biased and gender-neutral occupations are held by males. Implications of how subtle changes in language can influence gender stereotypes will be discussed.

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Apr 9th, 1:00 PM Apr 9th, 2:30 PM

Gender Bias is Here to Stay? Investigating How Subtle Changes in Language can Influence Gender Stereotyped Occupations

CSU Ballroom

With women entering all areas of the workforce, traditional male-biased job titles are outdated. However, there is a strong persistence of gender in job titles. These terms are still prevalent in media outlets and influence our perspectives about job appropriateness.

Lassonde and O’Brien (in press) have demonstrated that gender-neutral language (e.g., firefighter) contains bias that women are less appropriate for these positions. When participants read text describing a person holding a stereotypically male-gendered occupation, read time was slower if the person holding the position was female. Slower reading times suggest comprehension difficulty. The goal of the current project was to investigate the impact of male- and female-biased adjectives, in addition to gender-neutral language, on reading comprehension. For example, is a female-biased adjective combined with a male-biased occupation sufficient to indicate the gender? If so, then readers would no longer have difficulty when they learn that the person holding the occupation is female. Reading comprehension was indicated by the time it took participants to read target sentences within a series of passages. Combining a gender- neutral title with a female-biased adjective reduced some but not all of the comprehension difficulty on the target sentence. Male- biased adjectives had the opposite effect, reinforcing the stereotype that both male-biased and gender-neutral occupations are held by males. Implications of how subtle changes in language can influence gender stereotypes will be discussed.

Recommended Citation

Coon, Emily and Natalie Lloyd. "Gender Bias is Here to Stay? Investigating How Subtle Changes in Language can Influence Gender Stereotyped Occupations." Undergraduate Research Symposium, Mankato, MN, April 9, 2012.
http://cornerstone.lib.mnsu.edu/urs/2012/poster-session-B/53