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Stigma of Feminine Job Titles, Prevalent Today

By SiliconIndia   |   Monday, February 4, 2013
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Bangalore: Women who hold feminine job designations are viewed as less competent in comparison to women who use traditional masculine titles, according to new research; as reported by dailymail.co.uk.

Although intended to uphold equality, the practice of issuing women gender specific job titles such as “chairwoman” seems to worsen the level of discrimination held against them, researchers observed.

Such women were likely to be viewed as less professionally impressive than both men and women with masculine job titles.

“Feminizing language helps make women more visible and more salient, but apparently this is not always an advantage. Emphasizing femaleness with a feminine title may lower the evaluation of women in a professional context.” says lead author Magdalena Formanowicz, University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Warsaw.

The researchers, who account their findings in the European Journal of Social Psychology, also pointed out that men using a female job title would most likely be ‘devalued’.

The further added that: 'Women using the masculine labels may profit because they sustain the cultural status quo.'

Neil Ashton, chairman, The Ashton Partnership, a Knightsbridge-based executive headhunting firm, noted that employment today has become 'obsessed' with designations which are 'frankly irrelevant'.

'If a woman wants to have a job title that reflects her femininity she should but there is also space for women to have more masculine job titles if it empowers them,' he commented.

‘What’s crucial is that the world wakes up to the importance of women in boardrooms. They are honest, loyal and can multi-task in a way men never can.'

Lead author Magdalena Formanowicz carried out the research with colleagues at the University of Bern in Switzerland and the University of Kiel in Germany.
In their study which involved ninety-six women and men; the participants were requested to evaluate applicants for a 'prestigious expert position' and were given a newspaper commentary the applicant had written to help them.

The participants had to then indicate how likely they were to give the candidate the job.

Both men and women with masculine job titles were rated equally highly, however, women with feminine job titles were rated drastically lower.

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