Lean In for Equality

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Science  24 May 2013:
Vol. 340, Issue 6135, pp. 902
DOI: 10.1126/science.340.6135.902-c

The importance of collaborative groups is being promoted in many school systems, and increasingly, scientific progress is made by groups of scientists rather than individual efforts. How do women perform in collaborations? Haynes and Heilman examined how gender stereotypes and self-perceptions manifest in collaborations in experiments with students from an introductory psychology class. Participants could not see their “partner” (whose description and performance were created by the experimenters). In the first experiment, participants either received feedback about the performance of their group as a whole or received feedback about their own performance. Unless given specific feedback, women tended to undervalue their own contributions. This was observed regardless of whether participants worked on the task as a unit or each had their own components to fulfill. However, this was affected by the gender of the “partner”: Women who thought their partner was male tended to devalue their own contributions but did not devalue them if they thought they had collaborated with another woman. These results suggest that women tend to minimize their own contributions, and they indicate that this is an additional obstacle that must be overcome in efforts to gain gender equality in the workplace.

Pers. Soc. Psychol. Bull. 10.1177/0146167213486358 (2013).

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