Why Women-owned Products Are Severely Scrutinized By Gender Bias

Beer, gadgets, wearables, automotive parts, power tools and more are a severely male-dominated market and products created by women are struggling to thrive because people think twice when something is made by a woman rather than by a man. Would you buy beer made by a woman or cupcakes for kids made by a man? Think about it, when we know the gender of the creator of products, we certainly think about how good or bad the products will be. Moreover, research presented by Stanford researchers Shelley J. Correll, Sarah A. Soule, and Elise Tak found that gender stereotyping does impact the way we perceive brands and their products.

People think consumer products are masculine and feminine

“Our research suggests that customers don’t value and are less inclined to buy traditionally male products if they think they’ve been manufactured by women. There’s an assumption that your woman-made craft beer, screwdriver, or roof rack just won’t be as good,” says Soule. Their study analyzed whether people thought certain products were masculine or feminine, like baby clothes, golf clubs, lamps, air-conditioning units and more. “It’s funny how there tends to be a consensus about the gender-typing of some products. Bacon, for instance, is almost universally seen as male, while coffee is rated more gender-neutral,” said Corell. After the findings from such an analysis, Correll and Soule set their focus on two products craft beer and cupcakes; the former was branded as masculine and the latter feminine. If craft beer was made by a woman and the name suggested the same, people would actually pay less for it, while also having lower expectations for when it comes to taste and quality. 

Woman-made goods in male-typed markets are being penalized for no reason

However, in terms of cupcakes, there wasn’t a much noticeable difference between male and female producers of cupcakes. Soule said, “What we’re seeing here is that woman-made goods for sale in male-typed markets are being penalized for no reason other than the fact they are made by women.” However, there was a silver lining in the study; when the product, brand, and creator received accolades or industry awards, it completely eliminated gender bias in the perception of them. Correll said, “When we told participants that a woman-brewed beer had won an award, they rated is just as highly as if it was brewed by a man. It seems that awards vouch for the competence of the woman. We find that individuals who have some degree of expertise or who really know about a product tend to focus on its features and don’t care whether it’s manufactured by men or women.” Hence, the more knowledge you have about a product, the lesser biased one tends to be and while awards cannot be just awarded to products left, right and center, one cannot ignore the fact that they do in fact help consumers reduce unnecessary gender bias.

Image credit: The Atlantic

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