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Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies

Ironic effects of gender-status beliefs on rising female proportions in organizational fields: The example of nuns and monks in Roman-Catholic monasticism


Prof. Dr. Katja Rost (University of Zurich)

Date and Time

May 17, 2017, 6 pm - 8 pm


Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies, University of Zurich, RAA E 08, Rämistrasse 59, 8001 Zürich


Over the last decades, organizations have introduced several diversity practices to reduce (unconscious) status bias against minorities; mostly without success. In particular for gender, the increase of minority proportions is pushed as an alternative, faster solution. A theory of how exactly higher female proportions influence gender discrimination at work is nevertheless largely missing, and the interplay between proportions of underrepresented groups and status bias against minority groups is not considered. Against this backdrop, we enrich theories of in-group bias with the theory of status construction to explain when higher female proportions create more positive work environments for women. We argue that gender-related status beliefs might counteract the positive effects of balancing gender proportions. The main factor determining whether status beliefs are encouraged and used is sex categorization in local interactions. Sex categorization primes gender-related status beliefs, and, consequently an increase of female proportions will not lead to a reduction of female disadvantages. We test these assumptions with historical data on monasteries, which offer a unique, real-life setting for examining the effects of gender proportions and gender status beliefs.


Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies - Gender Studies