Is this a man’s world? Obstacles to women’s success in male-typed domains

Suzette Caleo, Madeline E. Heilman

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Today, women remain under-represented in many traditionally male fields. Although this disparity has declined in the past decades, it remains especially apparent in high-level positions. Women, for instance, comprise only 4 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs, 20 percent of full professors in the natural sciences, and 11 percent of engineers (Catalyst, 2013a; National Science Foundation, 2013). In accounting for the lack of women in these areas, researchers argue that gender stereotypes play a major role in inhibiting womenís career progress (Eagly and Karau, 2002; Heilman, 2012). In this chapter, we discuss the ways in which stereotypes not only create barriers for women attempting to prove their worth in male-typed domains, but also generate further difficulties for those women who have already done so. We also consider a growing body of evidence that documents the kinds of obstacles that women encounter when working in traditionally male jobsñbarriers that restrict their advancement prior to, during, and after demonstrating their success. Decades of research support the notion that stereotypical beliefs about men and women exist in the workplace (Heilman et al., 1989; Schein, 2001), and recent evidence suggests that these stereotypes continue to persist (Hentschel et al., 2013). In short, the content of gender stereotypes dictates that men are agentic (e.g., achievement oriented, dominant, aggressive, and ambitious) and that women are communal (e.g., relationship oriented, warm, kind, and interpersonally sensitive).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationGender in Organizations
Subtitle of host publicationAre Men Allies or Adversaries to Women’s Career Advancement?
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing Ltd.
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781781955703
ISBN (Print)9781781955697
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Economics, Econometrics and Finance
  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • General Social Sciences


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