The Stereotypes in MBA Case Studies

by Sarah A. Soule, Davina Drabkin, and Lori Nishiura Mackenzie

Stereotypes are often reinforced by the words we choose to use. For example, when researchers recently analyzed massive text datasets, they found that in the 1910s, Asians in the U.S. were often characterized by words like “barbaric” or “monstrous” while descriptors like “passive” and “sensitive” are more common today.

We see stereotypical word choices play out in the workplace. Job ads for professional roles are often peppered with stereotypically masculine words. Research from the Women’s Leadership Lab reveals that stereotypes also affect how managers write performance reviews and talk about people in talent reviews. These patterns have consequences. Word choices reinforce often inaccurate stereotypes about gender, race, national origin, age or other status characteristics, creating disadvantages when those stereotypes do not align with markers of success.

We see stereotypical word choices play out in the workplace. Job ads for professional roles are often peppered with stereotypically masculine words. Research from the Women’s Leadership Lab reveals that stereotypes also affect how managers write performance reviews and talk about people in talent reviews. These patterns have consequences. Word choices reinforce often inaccurate stereotypes about gender, race, national origin, age or other status characteristics, creating disadvantages when those stereotypes do not align with markers of success.

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