Occupational stereotypes: activation of male bias in a gender-neutral world


Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Karla A. Lassonde, Department of Psychology, Minnesota State University, Mankato, MN 56001, USA. E-mail: karla.lassonde@mnsu.edu


The goal of the present study was to determine whether gender-neutral language, used to replace male-biased language, carries an implicit male bias. Participants read passages in which a target occupation was introduced using either male-biased or gender-neutral nouns. A target sentence followed defining the gender of the occupational character. In Experiment 1, participants read target sentences defining the character as a woman more slowly following passages that contained male-biased nouns and gender-neutral nouns. In Experiment 2, an additional sentence was added that defined the occupational character as a woman. This information eliminated the reading disruption in Experiment 1 demonstrating that gender-neutral language can moderate against activation of gender stereotypes when combined with an explicit mention that the occupational character is female.