Get access

Reconsidering the Impact of Gender Stereotypes on the Advancement of Women in Organizations


  • Portions of this paper were presented at the 56th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management, August 1996, Cincinnati, OH. I am grateful for the helpful comments of Brenda Agars, David Day, Janet Kottke, Deidra Schleicher, Janet Swim, and Amy Unckless.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Mark D. Agars, Department of Psychology, SB- 532, California State University, San Bernardino, San Bernardino, CA 92407. E-mail:


Over the last 30 years, gender issues in the workplace have received much attention. A review of this literature, however, reveals limited investigation of the impact of gender stereotypes on personnel decisions and the demographic differences present in upper management. In fact, this issue has rarely received serious attention. A misinterpretation of the small effect size typically reported when describing the relationship between stereotypes and evaluations of performance is a likely reason, and a hypothetical demonstration elucidates the more severe impact of stereotypes on women's advancement. Considered cumulatively, stereotypes are a certain and meaningful contributor to the limited presence of women in high-level positions. Renewed consideration of the role of stereotypes in organizational decision making is required, and recommendations for researchers are presented. Other applied issues for which the misinterpretation of gender-based effect sizes has hindered research are discussed.