The study conducted by researchers Gerdes and Kelman (1981) explored the limiting conditions of sex discrimination and the effects of different sex and sex-typing variables. The researchers found that in most studies of sex discrimination, the sexes of performers or job applicants were varied but the performances or credentials weren’t changes. These kinds of studies identify sex discrimination when candidates are rated differently with all factors remaining the same except gender.
Discrimination against women has been shown by these studies by evaluating competence, but the conditions that exacerbate or inhibit discrimination have not been completely outlined. The researchers aimed to solve this problem by investigating the contexts of discrimination against both sexes (Gerdes & Kelman, 1981, p. 219). A previous study on sex discrimination has many flaws. The study by Gerdes and Kelman is very significant because it tries to provide the missing information on studies that were done before.
Most studies about sex discrimination used management situations that only included male evaluators who rated people doing traditional masculine jobs. Other studies that investigated other situations often evaluated the impact of evaluator sex or type of task, but usually didn’t consider the two factors together. Gerdes and Kelman’s study solved this problem by bringing both these factors together to know the true nature of sex discrimination (Gerdes & Kelman, 1981, p. 220
Reviewing relevant literature on the subject, the researchers found that there are many more factors to be considered in the study of sex discrimination. They did not state any hypothesis, but they did point out that male and female evaluators were both found to discriminate against females more often. However, there were some studies which indicated females evaluated their own sex more favorably on management tasks. The authors thought that the interactions of such factors were potentially important.
According to their interpretation of the literature, the gender of evaluators may affect judgments regarding performance on specific kinds of tasks. Another inference is that an evaluator belonging to one sex may be more concerned about the congruence of sex and role than the opposite sex. Thus, the main research questions are: What are the effects of sex-role incongruence and congruence on sex stereotypes? Does the sex of the evaluator have a significant effect on stereotypes? What is the true nature of sex discrimination looking at all of these factors?
The research questions are very appropriate because they follow from the literature review. Sex discrimination studies do have many inadequacies and the researchers’ observations do result in very interesting questions that must be scientifically tested. After all, sex discrimination doesn’t only have women as its victims and men may also be subject to it. The effect of sex-role incongruence on gender stereotypes has also not been fully investigated by previous studies, so this needed to be looked into. The literature review is impressive because it is very relevant to the study.
For instance, to know whether previous research have found out that women have been rated lower than men on all kinds of tasks, the researchers reviewed a study on actuarial prejudice toward women and its implications. Also, to have a background on studies where men and women may have both been tested for sex discrimination, the researchers read a study on the subtle effects of sex role stereotypes on the hiring decisions of recruiters. These studies all explore the issue of sex discrimination, including its smaller topics such as sex-role stereotypes and prejudice (Gerdes & Kelman, 1981, p.
220). Another merit of the study is that its literature review is very thorough. For example, to know the tendency of sexes to discriminate in the context of sex-associated jobs, the researchers read a study on the evaluations of the jobs of both men and women as a function of the evaluator’s sex and type of job. It is also believed that women may discriminate against fellow women, so the researchers reviewed a study investigating the prejudice of women against fellow women. The literature review comes from a solid background because its literature review is current.
The study was published 1981, so it was conducted at around this time. In terms of scientific journals reviewed, the most recent study cited was a work on gender, sex related traits and stereotypes through a perceptual defense approach published in 1978. There were two other studies cited published in 1978: a study on the effects of sex on managerial hiring decisions, and perceived characteristics of sex in managerially relevant characteristics. The oldest study cited was published in 1972, a work that attempted to provide a measurement of attitudes toward women and their roles and rights in contemporary society.
Dates of journal publications cited by the authors are all within the period of 1972 to 1978, which means the oldest is just nine years past, and the most recent is just three years old. One reference has a publication date of 1967, but this is not a journal, but a book on psychometric theory. This is still relevant despite its year of publication because it might have just provided a general background on the study. The research design was not stated, but the authors did demonstrate how the study was done.
First, students from Bucknell University were gathered as subjects through an invitation sent to volunteers in a subject pool. They were told to participate in a study on attitudes. Forty-nine females and fifty-seven males completed a questionnaire on stereotypes , then five weeks later, they were asked to participate in a supposedly different experiment on the perception of people. Eighty subjects were grouped into four according to their scores on the stereotype questionnaire, and then ranked, forming matched groups.
Ten subjects participated in rating sessions that were heterogeneous, and they chose in terms of their convenience. Subjects evaluated a female or male candidate on their ability to do five feminine sex-typed jobs and five masculine sex-typed jobs. Subjects in the study appear to have been selected without overt bias. The researchers did not pick students who were their preference in any field. They gathered subjects from a subject pool which consisted of volunteers. There seems to be no control group in the study. Instead, results from each sex were compared with each other.
Researchers gathered 80 subjects for this experiment. In our opinion, this is enough to measure the attitudes of men and women in the context of the study. The researchers also determined the sex-type of jobs by using a stereotype questionnaire which gathered information regarding the stereotypes of the same set of subjects. This strategy ensured that they were measuring definitions of stereotypes that came from their own subjects and not anywhere else (Gerdes & Kelman, 1981, p. 221). Instruments used in this study are reliable because they have been used and evaluated before.
The stereotype questionnaire was formed by combining 55 items of the Attitudes Toward Women Scale (AWS) and 55 items of the Stereotype Scale of the Personal Attributes Questionnaire (PAQ). Both of these tests have been used and evaluated by previous researchers and have yielded impressive results. The two tests combined measured the sex-characteristic and sex-role stereotypes of respondents. Researchers provided descriptions of ten sex-typed jobs to respondents which they will use to evaluate the performance of fellow candidates.
Sex-typing of these jobs was developed by asking another sample of 70 men and 96 women in an introductory psychology class to rate the descriptions based on society’s stereotypes. Stereotypes were measured using a seven-point scale that ranged from 1 – extremely feminine, 4 – neutral, and 7 – extremely masculine. Subjects in the study rated their expectation of their candidates’ performance on a nine-point scale: 1 – very poorly, 5 – average, and 9 – very well. Experimenters asked them to base their ratings on a one-page description of the candidate’s profile.
They were also led to believe that their candidate was not the only one being evaluated, but among many candidates. There is enough information on the procedures as was mentioned above. The method of research was clearly explained by the researchers as well as what constituted the stereotype questionnaires and the rating systems. Other researchers can replicate this study by using the exact same procedures and instruments that the authors used, provided that subjects can’t associate follow-up experiments with this study. Statistical tests were used in this study.
Variance of the data gathered through the stereotype questionnaire was analyzed using ANOVA with two group factors: experimenter sex and subject sex (Gerdes & Kelman, 1981, p. 222). While statistical methods are good a way to analyze sex discrimination, qualitative methods of analysis such as long interviews and focus group discussions could also help illuminate this topic more. Human behavior theories could also help provide narrative and logic to this phenomenon. Other researchers could employ these qualitative methods to learn the story behind the numbers in the subject of sex discrimination.
The findings in this study have practical implications in developing policies to curb sex discrimination in different social settings. Findings indicated that male candidates were rated higher for masculine jobs and female candidates were rated higher for feminine jobs. Results also indicated that same-sex favoritism was present in the group, with male subjects viewing masculine jobs as more difficult, and female subjects viewing feminine jobs as more difficult. Each sex also rated their own sex higher on the ability to do sex-role incongruent jobs.
The categorization of subjects into egalitarian or traditional was also found to have no correlation at all with their ratings of candidates. These findings mean that sex discrimination happens both in men and in women (Gerdes & Kelman, 1981, p. 224). Men think that they are better in masculine jobs and women think they are better in feminine jobs. Once these findings are established, governing bodies, companies, and policy developers can act on them to create policies that curb sex discrimination in different settings, such as for example, employment in companies.
The authors did not over generalize and they did recognize potential bias. To avoid awareness of their own interest in differential judgments about female and male candidates, they had each subject evaluate only one candidate. Reference Gerdes, E. P. , & Kelman, J. H. (1981). Sex Discrimination: Effects of Sex-Role Incongruence, Evaluator Sex, and Stereotypes. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 2 (3), 219-226.