July 15, 2016

Next time you think something is really innovative, look at the gender of the person who created it.

According to researchers at Duke University, if you want to be perceived as innovative, it helps to be a man.

When study participants evaluated a creative product that they believed to be made by a man, they rated it as more creative than study participants who were told that the exact, same product was made by a woman. 

These results may seem a little depressing in 2016. But Devon Proudfoot, a doctoral candidate in management and organizations at Duke and one of the researchers, says it’s not surprising.

The way we tend to stereotype men, she says, is as “independent and self-reliant, going against the grain, [and] thinking differently,” which are qualities we associate with creative thinking.

What did surprise her, though? “Just how robust this effect is across multiple domains.” In every domain they tested, men were always perceived as more creative.

The solution?

Proudfoot says you have to start by accepting that we have this bias, even if we don’t want to, and even if we don’t think we personally do. Being aware of it might help us pause and think the next time we judge someone’s creativity.

Kara Miller, sciencend tech, Devon Proudfood, WGBH, creativity, pri

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