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How Might Female Stereotypes Benefit Organizations? CEO Gender Guides Perceptions and Moral Judgments of Organizations
Keywords: moral judgments, organizations, gender, stereotypes
Abstract: Can the CEO gender influence people’s moral judgments of the organization as a whole? We argue that it can. Drawing from the mind perception and gender stereotyping literatures, across four studies, people perceive an organization with a female CEO as having more experiential qualities (e.g., having capacity for emotions) than one with a male CEO, which subsequently increases how compassionate and socially responsible the organization seems. This effect confers advantages for organizations that commit moral transgressions: after corporate misconduct, if the organization appoints a new female CEO, rather than a male CEO, people judge it more positively and invest more money in it. However, there are also potential downsides to being perceived as more compassionate: consistent with expectancy violation theory, an organization that commits moral transgressions while the CEO is a woman, rather than a man, is punished more harshly. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.