Are men more likely to be seen as ‘creative thinkers’?

Posted by: Roy Wilbur

According to a report by Devon Proudfoot at Duke University they are.  Published in September 2015, it is entitled“A Gender Bias in the Attribution of Creativity: Archival and Experimental Evidence for the Perceived Association Between Masculinity and Creative Thinking.”   We invite you to continue reading and to share your thoughts below.   

The abstract reads as follows:
We propose that the propensity to think creatively tends to be associated with independence and self-direction—qualities generally ascribed to men—so that men are often perceived to be more creative than women. In two experiments, we found that “outside the box” creativity is more strongly associated with stereotypically masculine characteristics (e.g., daring and self-reliance) than with stereotypically feminine characteristics (e.g., cooperativeness and supportiveness; Study 1) and that a man is ascribed more creativity than a woman when they produce identical output (Study 2). Analyzing archival data, we found that men’s ideas are evaluated as more ingenious than women’s ideas (Study 3) and that female executives are stereotyped as less innovative than their male counterparts when evaluated by their supervisors (Study 4). Finally, we observed that stereotypically masculine behavior enhances a man’s perceived creativity, whereas identical behavior does not enhance a woman’s perceived creativity (Study 5). This boost in men’s perceived creativity is mediated by attributions of agency, not competence, and predicts perceptions of reward deservingness.

“This result suggests that gender bias in creativity judgments may affect tangible economic outcomes for men and women in the workplace,” the researchers write.

“In suggesting that women are less likely than men to have their creative thinking recognized, our research not only points to a unique reason why women may be passed over for corporate leadership positions, but also suggests why women remain largely absent from elite circles within creative industries,” says Proudfoot.

Click here for a copy of the full report
Click here to read an article on the report in Science Daily

Author Contributions D. Proudfoot developed the study concept. D. Proudfoot and A. C. Kay designed the studies. Data collection was performed by D. Proudfoot. D. Proudfoot and C. Z. Koval performed the data analysis and interpretation under the supervision of A. C. Kay. D. Proudfoot crafted the manuscript, and A. C. Kay provided critical revisions. All authors approved the final version of the manuscript.

Artwork by Meghan Blade ’16

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