Tuesday, 13 June 2023

Prescriptive Gender Stereotypes in Contemporary America

Content, Dynamics, and Implications for Inequality

Lecture by Sarah Thébaud – Attendance Event

Cultural norms about gender play a critical role in sociological accounts of gender inequality. In addition to descriptive beliefs about the way men and women typically are, normative beliefs and expectations about the way men and women supposedly should and should not be are crucial for understanding gendered patterns of decision making and behavior in organizations and families. However, knowledge about the specific content of prescriptive gender stereotypes especially on dimensions related to occupational segregation and family division of labor is surprisingly scarce. Moreover, the ways in which prescriptive stereotypes map onto gender-typed roles in these domains remain unknown.
In this talk, Thébaud will present results from a survey experiment that measures the content of prescriptive and descriptive stereotypes about men and women, mothers and fathers. Progress toward more equal gender beliefs appears to be highly uneven, and while findings suggest a general weakening of gender essentialist beliefs, stereotypes that prescribe male breadwinning and male status advantages are remarkably large and seem particularly resilient. Mapping the content of prescriptive gender stereotypes along novel character dimensions provides a basis for refining and specifying our theoretical accounts of gendered work, leadership, and caregiving gaps.

Moderated by Lena Hipp

Sarah Thébaud, Associate Professor at the University of California, is an expert in the fields of gender, organization & work, social psychology, family, social inequality and economic sociology. Her work has received awards from the American Sociological Association and has been cited in The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, Time, and The Economist.

Lena Hipp is head of the WZB research professorship Work, Family and Social Inequality, and Professor of Social Inequality and Social Policy at the University of Potsdam.


The venue is wheelchair accessible. Please let Friederike Theilen-Kosch (friederike.theilen-kosch [at] wzb.eu) know if you need special assistance.

The data protection notice on photo and film recordings can be found here.