University Study Finds a Significant Gender Bias in the Assessment of Creativity

PoundfootA study led by Devon Proudfoot, a Ph.D. student at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, finds that in the workplace men are generally perceived as more creative than women. The authors conclude that this perception may contribute to the gender pay gap in the business world.

Researchers showed study participants the creations of architects. Some were told the architects were women and some were told that the architects were men. Participants rated the work of male architects as more creative than women architects despite the fact that the designs were identical.

In another study, survey participants were asked to read a passage about a male or female manager who had developed a strategic plan that was described as risky, a trait usually assigned more to men than women. Participants were more likely to view the risky strategic plan as creative when they thought that a man had developed the plan.

The authors conclude that “gender bias in creativity judgments may affect tangible economic outcomes for men and women in the workplace.”

Proudfoot is a graduate of McGill University in Montreal, where she majored in psychology. She holds a master’s degree in social psychology from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

The article, “A Gender Bias in the Attribution of Creativity: Archival and Experimental Evidence for the Perceived Association Between Masculinity and Creative Thinking,” was published on the website of the journal Psychological Science. It may be accessed here.

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