In a laboratory experiment by Michigan State University scholars, women who described themselves using masculine-like traits (assertive, independent, achievement oriented) were evaluated as more fitting for the job than those who emphasized female-like traits (warmth, supportiveness, nurturing).
The findings refute the idea that women who emphasize counter-stereotypical traits might face a backlash for not conforming to expected gender roles. When hiring for a leadership position in a male-dominated field such as engineering, decision makers generally looked for take-charge candidates regardless of gender.
Co-author Ann Marie Ryan said since there was ample evidence hiring discrimination exists for women, minorities, older workers and others, it was time to start focusing on why discrimination occurs, and what a job seeker might do to combat it.
The study is published online in Psychology of Women Quarterly.