Backlash effects for disconfirming gender stereotypes in organizations

Laurie A. Rudman, Julie E. Phelan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

454 Scopus citations


Backlash effects are defined as social and economic reprisals for behaving counterstereotypically (Rudman, L. A. (1998). Self-promotion as a risk factor for women: The costs and benefits of counterstereotypical impression management. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 629-645). The present chapter outlines an impression-management dilemma that women face and describes the literature on backlash effects in organizations. Because women are perceived to be less competent, ambitious, and competitive (i.e., less agentic) than men, they may be overlooked for leadership positions unless they present themselves as atypical women. However, the prescriptive nature of gender stereotypes can result in negative reactions to female agency and authority (i.e., backlash). This dilemma has serious consequences for gender parity, as it undermines women at every stage of their careers. It also has consequences for organizations, as it likely contributes to female managers' higher rates of job disaffection and turnover, relative to male counterparts. In addition to specifying the consequences of backlash for women and organizations, we consider potential moderators of backlash effects and the role that backlash plays in maintaining cultural stereotypes. Finally, we outline potential avenues for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-79
Number of pages19
JournalResearch in Organizational Behavior
StatePublished - 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


Dive into the research topics of 'Backlash effects for disconfirming gender stereotypes in organizations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this