Journal of Organizational Behavior

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Innovative work behavior and sex‐based stereotypes: Examining sex differences in perceptions and evaluations of innovative work behavior


Building on role congruity theory, we predict that innovative work behaviors are stereotypically ascribed to men more than to women. Because of this bias, women who innovate may not receive better performance evaluations than those who do not innovate, whereas engaging in innovative work behaviors is beneficial for men. These predictions were supported across 3 complementary field and experimental studies. The results of an experiment (Study 1; N = 407) revealed that innovative work behaviors are stereotypically associated with men more than women. In Studies 2 and 3, using multisource employee evaluation data (N = 153) and by experimentally manipulating innovative work behaviors (N = 232), respectively, we found that favorable performance evaluations were associated with innovative work behaviors for men but not for women. These studies highlight a previously unidentified form of sex bias and are particularly important for those wishing to increase innovative behaviors in the workplace: We need to address this phenomenon of “think innovation‐think male.”

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