“Gender roles” have been described as society’s shared beliefs that apply to individuals on the basis of their socially identified sex (Eagly, 2009) and are thus closely related to gender stereotypes. Stereotypes can be conceptualized as the descriptive aspects of gender roles, as they depict the attributes that an individual ascribes to a group of people (Eagly & Mladinic, 1989). Stereotyping is often seen as necessary, as it is a way of simplifying the overwhelming amount of stimuli one constantly receives from the world (Ladegaard, 1998), constraining potentially infinite numbers of interpretations (Dunning & Sherman, 1997). Another line of inquiry extends the function of stereotypes from the interpretation to the rationalization and justification of social practices (Allport, 1954; Hoffman & Hurst, 1990; Tajfel, 1981). Common to these interpretations is the view that the resulting representation is usually selective, distorted, and often oversimplified. Stereotypes of men and women commonly reflect Bakan’s (1966) distinction between two dimensions, often labeled agency, or self-assertion, and communion, or connection with others (Eagly, 2009; Jost & Kay, 2005; Rudman & Glick, 2001). Men are generally thought to be agentic—that is, competent, assertive, independent, masterful, and achievement oriented, while women are perceived as inferior to men in agentic qualities. Conversely, women are generally thought to be communal—that is, friendly, warm, unselfish, sociable, interdependent, emotionally expressive and relationship oriented—while men are perceived as inferior in communal qualities (Eagly & Mladinic, 1989). Empirical studies investigating the extent to which gender stereotypes apply have consistently found that their content is heavily saturated with communion and agency (Eagly & Mladinic, 1989; Eagly & Steffen, 1984; Langford & MacKinnon, 2000; Rudman & Glick, 2001;Spence & Buckner, 2000The alleged complementarity of attributes...
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