Think star, think men? Implicit star performer theories
Keywords: 
Diversity
Equity
Gender discrimination
Gender equity
Inclusion
STEM
Issue Date: 
12-Mar-2024
Publisher: 
Wiley
ISSN: 
1099-1379
Editorial note: 
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.
Citation: 
Villamor, I. (Isabel); Aguinis, H. (Herman). "Think star, think men? Implicit star performer theories". Journal of organizational behavior. , 2024-03-12, 2784
Abstract
The star performer gender gap highlights women's challenges in being recognized as star performers. We investigated whether people hold shared beliefs about characteristics star performers possess (i.e., implicit star performer theories, ISPTs) and whether perceptions of stars are (a) gendered and (b) context-specific. Guided by categorization theory, we argue that individuals have shared perceptions of what constitutes a star performer. Employing an inductive approach, we uncovered the existence of ISPTs that are distinct and differ from previously identified implicit theories, such as those about leadership. Specifically, stars were believed to have six characteristics: Driven, Relational, Extraordinary, Fascinating, Tenacious, and Brilliant. We then applied role congruity theory to argue that perceptions of star performers would be gendered and context-dependent. Using an experimental approach, we ascertained that people associated star performers with more masculine than feminine attributes, what we labeled the think star, think men phenomenon. Moreover, this association was context-dependent, such that the association of star performers with masculine attributes was stronger in men-dominated occupations. Our third study used a non-reactive approach (i.e., “Princeton trilogy”), and results showed that star performers are seen as possessing more masculine attributes than very good employees. Overall, our three studies using inductive, experimental, and indirect methods based on eight samples of 2322 participants consistently supported the existence of ISPTs and the think star, think men phenomenon, improving our understanding of the star performer gender gap.
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