This paper focuses on the workplace consequences of both descriptive gender stereotypes
(designating what women and men are like) and prescriptive gender stereotypes (designating
what women and men should be like), and their implications for women's career progress.
The paper discusses how descriptive gender stereotypes promote gender bias because of the
negative performance expectations that result from the perception that there is a poor fit
between what women are like and the attributes believed necessary for successful
performance in male gender-typed positions and roles.
Prescriptive stereotypes establish normative expectations for men's and women's behavior,
resulting in the devaluation and derogation of women who directly or indirectly violate gender
norms (Heilman, 2001; Heilman & Parks-Stamm, 2007).
Conceptions of men and women not only are different, but they tend to be oppositional, with
women seen as lacking what is thought to be most prevalent in men, and men seen as lacking
what is most prevalent in women.
There is evidence that increased proportional representation of women in the applicant pool
favorably affects perceptions of women's career opportunities (Heilman, 1980), and that
increased proportional representation of women in work groups favorably affects women's
performance evaluations (Sackett et al., 1991).
Women who do not exhibit stereotypically prescribed attributes have been shown to be
regarded as less psychologically healthy than more feminine women (Costrich, Feinstein,
Kidder, Marecek, & Pascale, 1975), and women thought to be nontraditional have been shown
to suffer in their evaluations, with ''feminists'' evaluated less favorably than other women
(Haddock & Zanna, 1994).
(1992) found that women were evaluated more negatively than men when they adopted
autocratic or directive leadership styles styles that deviate from communal and
non-aggressive stereotypic prescriptions for women's...