The interpersonal consequences of gender violations

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Women and men encounter distinct expectations about the social roles they should occupy. As a result, entering a gender atypical role, which I refer to as a gender violation, often results in consequences for women and men. Across traditions, scholars have studied the negative effects of women's entrance into traditionally male domains. At the same time, there is conflicting evidence of whether men's entrance into traditionally women domains results in a similar set of negative consequences. While some evidence suggests that men in gender atypical roles receive organizational advantages, such as higher wage growth than women in the occupations, there is also evidence that such men face a social stigma. Moreover, research on masculinity, and to some extent status characteristics theory, suggests that men in traditionally women's roles will face likeability and competence biases. This dissertation introduces and tests a theoretical model of the consequences for gender violations for both women and men. Specifically, the model specifies the types of interpersonal biases associated with gender violations (competence, likability, and perceptions of masculinity and femininity), the tangible consequences of those biases (role reward penalties and social isolation), and how justifications for being in the role moderates these relationships. This model is unique in its comprehensiveness. While a plethora of research across disciplines has documented the biases that women and men in gender atypical occupations encounter, these findings occasionally conflict and are often rarely synthesized into a single general model that allows for a comparison of the specific consequences for both women and men in gender atypical occupations. Empirically, the consequences for women's and men's gender violations are rarely tested simultaneously, limiting our understanding of how the consequences for women's and men's gender violations are similar or different. I tested the model across four different studies using different operationalizations. As an initial test of the model, Studies 1 and 2 first applied the model to understanding perceptions of, and treatment towards, stay-at-home fathers and employed mothers, two groups who are gender violators. Study 3 tested the model more rigorously using operationalizations carefully selected to minimize confounds that might have explained the effects in Studies 1 and 2. Study 4 tests the role of status in producing the outcomes of gender violations. The results provide limited empirical support for the model. However, Study 2, which uses a national probability sample of the United States, provides the most empirical support. Analyses of the respondent's sociodemographic characteristics demonstrate that the lack of support for the model in the other three studies is likely due to differences in the sociodemographics of the respondents. Despite the inconsistent support for the model, two findings emerge as relatively robust regardless of the design or sample of the study. First, men's gender violations have a strong negative effects on perceptions of their masculinity. There is little evidence that women's gender violations affect perceptions of their femininity. Second, choosing to be in a role results in higher perceptions of an individual's competence, regardless of an individual's gender. In sum, though I find inconsistent support for the model, the study using a sample that most closely resembles the U.S. population suggests the model holds mostly for a certain subset of adults in the U.S. This suggests that for women and men in organizations that reflect this population, gender violations will result in consequences. These studies have important implications. As economic conditions fluctuate, workers may float in and out of the labor force and pursue various occupations. Awareness of how their gender can bias perceptions of those around them is crucial information to help them better prepare for, and possibly preclude, such biases. More broadly, this work suggests one possible mechanism for the persistence of gender segregation in the labor force. The consequences associated with gender violations likely push individuals out of gender atypical social roles and may even deter individuals from pursuing these roles in the first place.


Type of resource text
Form electronic; electronic resource; remote
Extent 1 online resource.
Publication date 2016
Issuance monographic
Language English


Associated with Watts, Alexander W
Associated with Stanford University, Department of Sociology.
Primary advisor Correll, Shelley Joyce
Thesis advisor Correll, Shelley Joyce
Thesis advisor Fields, Corey
Thesis advisor Ridgeway, Cecilia L
Advisor Fields, Corey
Advisor Ridgeway, Cecilia L


Genre Theses

Bibliographic information

Statement of responsibility Alexander W. Watts.
Note Submitted to the Department of Sociology.
Thesis Thesis (Ph.D.)--Stanford University, 2016.
Location electronic resource

Access conditions

© 2016 by Alexander William Watts
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).

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