“Masculine defaults: Hidden cultural biases in male-dominated fields”
Understanding and remedying women’s underrepresentation in male-dominated fields and occupations requires the recognition of a hidden and lesser-known form of cultural bias called masculine defaults. Masculine defaults exist when characteristics or behaviors associated with the male gender role are valued, rewarded, or regarded as necessary, standard, or normal. Feminist theorists have previously described and analyzed masculine defaults (e.g., Bem, 1984; de Beauvoir, 1953; Gilligan, 1982; Warren, 1977). Here we define masculine defaults in more detail, distinguish them from more well-researched forms of bias, and describe how they contribute to women’s underrepresentation in male-dominated settings. Increasing women’s participation in male-dominated departments and workplaces requires identifying and counteracting masculine defaults on multiple levels of organizational culture.