Women fear stereotyping by male service providers

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

WASHINGTON - 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,” a study’s authors wrote.

Kyoungmi Lee from Yonsei University, Korea; Hakkyun Kim from Concordia University, Canada; and Kathleen Vohs, University of Minnesota demonstrated that stereotypes about women’s STEM abilities shape women’s consumer behaviour, the Journal of Consumer Research reports.

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, according to a Yale University statement.

For example, when women want advice on investments or on buying a car, they may wonder if they will receive unfair treatment or become an easy target for manipulation.

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, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

“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 authors wrote.

Filed under: Society

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