Penalties for success: Reactions to women who succeed at male gender-typed tasks

Madeline E. Heilman, Aaron S. Wallen, Daniella Fuchs, Melinda M. Tamkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A total of 242 subjects participated in 3 experimental studies investigating reactions to a woman's success in a male gender-typed job. Results strongly supported the authors' hypotheses, indicating that (a) when women are acknowledged to have been successful, they are less liked and more personally derogated than equivalently successful men (Studies 1 and 2); (b) these negative reactions occur only when the success is in an arena that is distinctly male in character (Study 2); and (c) being disliked can have career-affecting outcomes, both for overall evaluation and for recommendations concerning organizational reward allocation (Study 3). These results were taken to support the idea that gender stereotypes can prompt bias in evaluative judgments of women even when these women have proved themselves to be successful and demonstrated their competence. The distinction between prescriptive and descriptive aspects of gender stereotypes is considered, as well as the implications of prescriptive gender norms for women in work settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)416-427
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Penalties for success: Reactions to women who succeed at male gender-typed tasks'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this