Gender-fair language in the context of leadership: Preventing the lack of fit for women

Horvath, Lisa Kristina; Sczesny, Sabine (15 June 2013). Gender-fair language in the context of leadership: Preventing the lack of fit for women (Unpublished). In: Final Conference of the Marie Curie Initial Training Network Language, Cognition, and Gender (ITN LCG). Bern CH. 14.06.-15.06.2013.

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Women are still underrepresented in leadership due to a perceived a ‘lack of fit’. Thus, women are hired less likely, evaluated unfavorably or are less willing to take over a leadership role than their male counterparts. Because gender-fair language (e.g., feminine-masculine word pairs, German: ‘Geschäftsführerin/Geschäftsführer’, CEO, fem./CEO, masc.) leads to a higher mental inclusion of women compared to generic masculine forms (German: ‘Geschäftsführer’, CEO,masc.), we argue that masculine forms endorse the ‘lack of fit’ for women in leadership, whereas gender-fair language reduces it. Three studies support our assumption. Masculine forms led to a ‘lack of fit’ for women in leader selection: they were hired less likely (Study 1) and evaluated less favorably (Study 2) than their male counterparts. Moreover, women showed less willingness to apply when masculine forms were used in the advertisement for a leadership position. Contrary, no such gender-bias was obtained in case of gender-fair language.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology > Social Neuroscience and Social Psychology

UniBE Contributor:

Horvath, Lisa Kristina and Sczesny, Sabine


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology




Irène Gonce-Gyr

Date Deposited:

20 Nov 2014 09:55

Last Modified:

20 Nov 2014 09:55


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