Causes and consequences of gender stereotypes

ISSCR board authors: Commentary on flawed female mentorship study of AlShebli et al, in Nature Communications 2020

mentorship in science

On November 17, 2020, Nature Communications published a paper on the role of informal mentorship in the future careers of mentees (AlShebli et al., 2020). Given their leadership roles in the International Society for Stem Cell Research, Mummery and colleagues have collectively spoken out about the shortcomings of the paper and the importance of eliminating inequities that young scientists face throughout their careers. They also explain why Nature Communications' response to the retraction of the paper was unacceptable. Read the full commentary here.


Mummery, C., Little, M., Lin, H., Clark, A., Zaret, K., Barker, R., ... & Temple, S. Mentorship in Science: Response to AlShebli et al., Nature Communications 2020. Stem Cell Reports16(1), 1-2. 


Gender stereotypes have changed

Changing GenderstereotypesA comparison of gender stereotypes held by US citizens across the years, shows significant shifts in how men and women are perceived. The most striking difference emerges in perceptions of the intelligence of men and women. In 1946 about three quarters of the respondents believed that men and women are unequal in terms of their intelligence, by 2018 three quarters thought that men and women have equal intelligence. The authors indicate this shift in gender stereotypes follows from visible changes in the social roles men and women fulfill in society, and the greater participation of women in higher education and high-level functions at work.

Eagly, A. H., Nater, C., Miller, D. I., Kaufmann, M., & Sczesny, S. (2019). Gender stereotypes have changed: A cross-temporal meta-analysis of US public opinion polls from 1946 to 2018. American Psychologist.

Women with high grades may be disadvantaged by gender stereotypes when applying for a job, while average grades for men have little effect

Schermafbeelding 2019 02 22 om 17.43.24

Quadlin, N. (2018). The mark of a woman's record: Gender and academic performance in hiring. American Sociological Review, 83, 331-360.

Newsletter "Beeldvorming van wetenschappers"

Read the newsletter (in Dutch) "Beeldvorming van wetenschappers; Angels in Action: Ruimte voor Vrouwen! (Senaatskamers, Leiden)"of 8 March 2016

Men and women have similar capabilities and ambitions

annual review

Hyde, J. S. (2014). Gender similarities and differences. Annual Review of Psychology65, 373-398.


Women who give up a scientific career do not do so by free choice

Stephens, N.M., & Levine, C.S. (2011). Opting out or denying discrimination? How the framework of free choice in American society influences perceptions of gender inequality. Psychological Science, 22, 1231-1236.

Experiencing discrimination is detrimental to mental and physical health


Schmitt, M.R., Branscombe, N.R., Postmes, T., & Garcia, A. (2014). The consequences of perceived discrimination for psychological well-being: A meta-analytic review. Psychological Bulletin, 140, 921-948.

Stereotypical expectations can prevent women from performing at their best

stereotype verwachtingen
Shapiro, J. R. & Williams, A. M. (2012). The role of stereotype threats in undermining girls’ and women’s performance and interest in STEM fields. Sex Roles66, 175-183.