Subtle mechanisms that maintain traditional gender roles
Despite the formal endorsement of egalitarian values in Western societies, progress towards genuine gender equality is slow. To a large extent, this is because subtle, often unconscious behavioral mechanisms operate to maintain the traditional gender roles. Building on key feminist and social psychological theories (such as theorizing on ambivalent sexism and objectification theory), my research seeks to unravel the operation of these mechanisms.
To illustrate, in one research project we found that the endorsement of the prescriptive norm that women should devote considerable resources to maintaining an attractive appearance (thus complying with their traditional role as “the fairer sex”) increases when women try to occupy powerful, traditionally masculine professional positions. In other words, the “beauty tax” imposed on women reflects a backlash response.
In another research project, we found that benevolent sexism (a chivalrous ideology that idealizes women yet restricts them to traditional roles) leads men and women to engage in dependency-oriented helping relations within cross-gender interactions. That is, to seek and provide the type of help that perpetuates women’s role as dependent in traditionally masculine domains (e.g., math) and men's role as dependent in traditionally feminine domains (e.g., housekeeping and child rearing). On the optimistic side, a third research project has identified strategies to reduce women’s experience of stereotype threat and thus improve their performance in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math).
You can read about these and additional projects below.
Journal articles and book chapters
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Kahalon, R., Becker, J., C., & Shnabel, N. (2021). Appearance comments presented as compliments at work: How are they perceived by targets and observers in and outside of workplace settings? Journal of Applied Social Psychology.
Bareket, O., Shnabel, N., Kende, A., Knab, N., & Bar-Anan, Y. (2021). Need some help, honey? Dependency-oriented helping relations between women and men in the domestic sphere. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 120, 1175–1203.
Kahalon, R., Shnabel, N., & Becker, J. C. (2020). The effects of exposure to positive gender stereotypes on women’s and men’s performance in counter-stereotypical tasks and pursuit of agentic and communal goals. Social Psychology, 51, 50–62.
Ramati-Ziber, L., Shnabel, N., & Glick, P. (2020). The beauty myth: Prescriptive beauty norms for women reflect hierarchy-enhancing motivations leading to discriminatory employment practices. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 119, 317-343.
Kahalon, R., Bareket, O., Vial, A., Sassenhagen, N., Becker, J., & Shnabel, N. (2019). The Madonna-Whore Dichotomy is associated with patriarchy endorsement: Evidence from Israel, the United States, and Germany. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 43, 348-367.
Bareket, O., Shnabel, N., Abeles, D., Gervais, S., & Yuval-Greenberg, S. (2019). Evidence for association between men’s spontaneous objectifying gazing behavior and endorsement of objectifying attitudes towards women. Sex Roles, 81, 245–256.
Kahalon, R., Shnabel, N., & Becker, J. (2018). "Don't bother your pretty little head": Appearance compliments lead to improved mood but impaired cognitive performance. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 42, 136-150.
Bareket, O., Kahalon, R., Shnabel, N.,& Glick, P. (2018). The Madonna-whore dichotomy: Men who perceive women's nurturance and sexuality as mutually exclusive endorse patriarchy and show lower relationship satisfaction. Sex Roles, 79, 519-532.
Kahalon, R., Shnabel, N., & Becker, J. (2018). Positive stereotypes, negative outcomes: Reminders of the positive components of complementary gender stereotypes impair performance in counter-stereotypical tasks. British Journal of Social Psychology, 57, 482-502.
Kende, A., & Shnabel, N. (2018). Benevolent sexism and cross-gender helping: Challenging or maintaining the gender status quo? In E. van Leeuwen & H., Zagefka (Eds.), Intergroup helping: The positive side of intergroup behaviour (pp. 23-44). New York: Springer.
Shnabel, N., Bar-Anan, Y., Kende, A., Bareket, O., & Lazar, Y. (2016). Help to perpetuate traditional gender roles: Benevolent sexism increases engagement in dependency-oriented cross gender helping. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 110, 55-75.
Shnabel, N., Purdie-Vaughns, V., Cook, J.E., Garcia, J., & Cohen, G.L. (2013). Demystifying values-affirmation interventions: Writing about social-belonging is a key to buffering against stereotype threat. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 39, 663-676.