How Basic Can You Be? The Evolution of Research on Gender Stereotypes


  • Kay Deaux

    Corresponding author
    1. Graduate Center, City University of New York
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      KAY DEAUX is Professor of psychology at the Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York. Her research on gender-related issues, covering more than two decades, includes the books The Behavior of Women and Men and Women of Steel and a recent review of gender stereotypes (co-authored with Mary Kite) in the Handbook of the Psychology of Women. She has taken research on gender stereotypes to the legal arena in work on APA's amicus brief in the Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins case as well as in occasional service as an expert witness in sex discrimination cases.

CUNY Graduate Center, 33 West 42 Street, New York, NY 10036–8099


The study of gender stereotypes evolved from earlier research on racial and ethnic beliefs. Moving from an initial focus on the descriptive characteristics associated with women and men, investigators of gender stereotypes have used the framework of social cognition to analyze structure and process. The utility of this research for understanding sexual harassment is discussed in terms of (a) gender subtypes that emphasize sexuality, and (b) contextual factors that prime gender stereotypes and subtypes. An understanding of these basic phenomena can inform organizational policies and legal efforts aimed at “taming” the hostile work environment and reducing the occurrence of sexual harassment.