Friday, June 21, 2013

Precede Gender Attributions with Competence

Female concert music sounds better when conducted by a woman, and male concert music sounds better when conducted by a man.
     “Male” and “female” concert music? Yes, those listening to recordings of unfamiliar music with decisive rhythms and dynamics judged it as sounding better when told the conductor was male than when told the conductor was female. The ratings were about 14% higher. Not a huge difference, but enough to possibly affect future ticket sales.
     With music having delicate rather than decisive qualities, the participants in these University of Southern California and Ohio State University studies gave higher ratings if told the conductor was female. The difference was about 15%.
     However, these were not the findings for study participants who, before listening to the music, were convinced that the conductor—whether female or male—was highly competent. Here the rating of the powerful music didn’t depend on the supposed gender of the provider.
     This indicates that gender stereotypes at the retail level can be sidestepped by establishing competence as early in the process as possible.
     In fact, when convinced of female competence, the consumers changed their perceptions of the male-female nature of the music. The same piece was reported to be more delicate by those told the conductor was a competent female than by those told it was a competent male.
     The order of timing of gender attribution and evidence of competence made a difference. The same point showed up from a different angle in a set of studies at University of Minnesota, Canada’s Concordia University, and Korea’s Yonsei University: Many women avoid situations like automobile shopping, financial planning, and tax preparation because the women fear male salespeople will try to cheat them. These women believe that the men would assume the women’s science, technology, engineering, and math skills are inferior to those of the men.
     Among the ways to change the women consumers’ perceptions of their own competence:
  • Have women salespersons available and show more female salespersons in ads. This was one of the methods Lowe’s used to make their home improvement stores more female-friendly. 
  • Make the store environment less exclusively masculine. Go gently with the renovation, though. Otherwise you risk chasing off your male customers. 
  • Arrange and publicize women-only special events at your store. Harley-Davidson has had success with this method at their 650 U.S. dealerships. 
  • Have salespersons include more explanations in their selling. This eases anxiety. 
Click below for more: 
Stem the Tide of Female Shopper Discomfort 
Cancel Out Implications of Female Inferiority 
Plant Seeds to Grow into Purchase Desires

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