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June 4, 2024

Cluster-Seminar Public Finances and Living Conditions

The obstinacy of gender stereotypes. Evidence from the Found-in-Translation Task


June 4, 2024
13:00 to 14:00


Joan Robinson Room
DIW Berlin
Room 3.3.002a
Mohrenstraße 58
10117 Berlin


Patrycja Janowska-Widomska, University of Warsaw

The pursuit of science (especially exact sciences) is commonly associated with the male gender. This might have a lot of negative consequences, including discrimination and underrepresentation of female researchers at academia. We conduct two experiments with a series of conditions that make it gradually easier to avoid misattribution of gender of a female scholar. In a novel Found-in-Translation Task (FITT), we ask a total of 901 respondents to translate a short text concerning a male or a female academic from a gender-indistinguishable language (English) to a gender-discriminating language (Polish). The gender of the academic in question is not explicitly provided but can (and should) be googled in seconds. We find that male academics’ gender is almost never misattributed. By contrast, females’ gender is misattributed with frequency exceeding 80% even if the subject field is actually highly feminized and even if we encourage using Internet sources to avoid mistakes and we provide incentives to do so. Additionally, we run the Implicit Association Test (IAT) to investigate the extent to which participants associate exact sciences (as opposed to humanities) with the male (as opposed to female) gender. We do not find significant correlation of IAT scores with our measure. We conduct two additional studies where a total of 484 respondents performed FITT concerning singers and models instead of scholars to compare how different professions’ gender is perceived.