Does Your “Gender Profile” Include Your Race?

It won’t surprise you to learn that your perceived gender, inferred from your biological sex, may lead people to stereotype you as best suited for masculine- or feminine-typed occupations. People perceive women as more feminine—and as better suited to presumed feminine occupations such as librarian or caregiver. They perceive men as more masculine—and as a better fit for masculine occupations such as security patrol or firefighter.

But might it surprise you—as it did me—to know that research teams led by Adam Galinsky and by Kerri Johnson have found that people also have gender stereotypes associated with race? As Erika Hall, Galinsky, and Katherine Phillips explain in the June Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, “Asians are perceived as feminine and Blacks as masculine” (with Whites in between).

In five studies, Hall and her colleagues found that people’s “gender profile”—based both on their sex and their race—influences others’ judgments of how well suited and hirable they are for masculine- or feminine-typed occupations. Asian women (denoted by names and checkboxes) were deemed best suited for a librarian position and least suited for a campus security patrol. And Black men were judged least suited for a librarian position and best suited for a security patrol. Whites were deemed in between.

Simply said, the “gender of one’s race as well as one’s biological sex creates one’s gender profile.” And one’s sex + race gender profile predicts perceived “person-position fit.” Those conclusions, say the researchers, “shed light on how occupational gender and racial segregation persist.”

Fanatic Studio/Getty Images

Fanatic Studio/Getty Images