17 July 2020

The More Brilliant Gender

Welcome back. Here’s today’s survey question: Which gender is more brilliant? Hmm…Will your answer differ if you respond publicly or privately?
A toast to brilliant men and women
(from imgflip.com/i/wu987).
The gender-brilliance stereotype favors men, and it stands apart from other gender stereotypes related to intellect. One can think men and women are equally intelligent on average but also think men are more likely than women to be brilliant. Accurately measuring the stereotype is a challenge given that people are often reluctant to admit stereotypes.

A recently published study by researchers affiliated with Denver, Harvard and New York universities set out to extend prior work on the gender-brilliance stereotype using implicit rather than explicit measures. Do people implicitly associate brilliance with men more than with women?

Testing Implicit Gender-Brilliance Associations
The researchers employed the Implicit Association Test, a computer-based measure that requires users to rapidly categorize two target concepts (e.g., men, women) with an attribute (e.g., genius). Because easier pairings (faster responses) are interpreted as more strongly associated in memory than difficult pairings (slower responses), the test scores are thought to reflect implicit attitudes that people may be unwilling to reveal publicly. (A typical procedure involves a series of tasks, which are described in several references, see P.S.).

In all, the researchers tested implicit gender-brilliance associations in five experiments with a total of 3,618 participants from different regions of the U.S. and seven regions of the world. Although the focus was implicit associations, they also collected data on explicit gender-brilliance associations for comparison in a subset of the experiments.

Experimental Design
One experiment tested whether 818 participants (520 women), recruited from Mechanical Turk, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and New York University, associate the trait genius with the category male more than the category female using photographs of White men and women. The male-genius association was pervasive across all participants, in men and women and in each of the three source groups.

A similar experiment, which used photographs of Black men and women, also found a strong and widely prevalent implicit stereotype associating men with genius across participants, among women and men and in each of the three sources groups.

Explicit association testing in these experiments found the participants did not endorse a gender-brilliance stereotype favoring men and even associated “super smart" with women more than with men. Whether they were unaware of holding the stereotype or unwilling to report it, they did report that others--not they themselves--think of brilliance and genius as male qualities.

Other experiments with 103 10-year old children (52 boys; from Urbana-Champaign, Ill., or New York City) and 514 participants from 78 countries (360 men) had comparable results. Both the children and the international participants showed evidence of a moderate-to-strong implicit stereotype associating men with genius across participants and with all segments.

Wrap Up
The study demonstrated that people implicitly conceive of brilliance and genius as male more than female traits. Why? The stereotype favoring men has no basis in actual intellectual ability.

At least some people reach beyond the gender-brilliance
(from www.azquotes.com/quote/864006).
The researchers suggest that a likely source of the gender stereotype are inferences drawn from observing the current and historic distribution of women and men across careers.

Women are underrepresented in fields perceived to require high-level intellectual ability, including many in science and technology as well as in social sciences and humanities. The stereotype may lead those working in these fields to perceive women as unsuited, or it might undermine women's inclination to pursue careers in the fields. The stereotype would thus be an artifact of the structural factors that have historically constrained women's intellectual pursuits.

Thanks for stopping by.

Study of gender-brilliance stereotype in Jour. of Experimental Social Psychology: doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2020.104020
Article on study on EurekAlert! website: www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-07/nyu-mml062920.php
Example articles on Implicit Association Test:

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