Women afraid of being stereotyped by male service providers

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

WASHINGTON - A new study has found that women prefer female service providers in situations where they might fall prey to stereotypes about their math and science abilities.

“One of the most widely held stereotypes in North America is that women’s competence and aptitude in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) domains is less than men’s,” said authors Kyoungmi Lee (Yonsei University, Korea), Hakkyun Kim (Concordia University, Canada), and Kathleen Vohs (University of Minnesota).

In their study, the authors demonstrate that stereotypes about women’s STEM abilities shape women’s consumer behavior. In particular, women shun situations in which they fear they will be the brunt of the stereotype, especially those that involve male service providers in transactions that call for STEM abilities.

The authors demonstrated that female consumers who are reminded of their gender identity expressed lower intentions to purchase service from firms that advertised themselves with male service providers. This pattern occurred for a tax firm that touted its service with male investment advisors and also in automobile repair and purchases.

“When the threat of being stereotyped is in the air, consumers become anxious when they contemplate transacting with outgroup vs. ingroup service providers if they are reminded of the negative gender stereotype in the STEM domains,” the authors write.

“A rise in consumer anxiety, in turn, is the very driving force behind women’s disinterest in transacting with male service providers or salespersons.”

The study has been published in the Journal of Consumer Research. (ANI)

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