People in non-traditional jobs judged more harshly

“The reason I got interested is, there was so much talk about race and gender barriers being broken,” said Victoria Brescoll, psychology scientist at Yale University, who led the study.

Brescoll suspected that people who have a job not normally associated with their gender would be under closer scrutiny and more likely to get in trouble for mistakes, reports the journal Psychological Science.

“Any mistakes that they make, even very minor ones, could be magnified and seen as even greater mistakes,” she said.Brescoll and colleagues, Erica Dawson and Eric Luis Uhlmann, came up with a list of high-status jobs that are normally held by one gender or the other, a statement by the university said.

This was easy for men, but actually quite difficult for women; the one they came up with was the president of a woman's college.

About 200 volunteers read a scenario in which either a police chief or a women's college president made a mistake - not sending enough police officers (or campus security officers) to respond to a protest.

The gender of the police chief or college president varied and different people read different texts. Then they were asked how they judged the person who made the mistake. People who were the non-stereotypical gender were judged more harshly - the volunteers saw them as less competent and deserving of less status. The same was true in other tests with a female chief executive officer of an aerospace engineering firm and a chief judge.

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