Analysing Stereotypical Threats in the Workplace

By Elif Çalışkan

Stereotypes are oversimplified generalizations about groups of people. They may be positive or negative. Stereotypes include judgments about a specific gender, race, age, or sexual orientation. Sometimes maybe even in the unconscious mind. People can often encounter these stereotypical threats in the workplace.  It is important to train employees to eliminate some stereotypes and provide awareness toward them. There are several forms of stereotypical threats that should be eliminated in the workplace.

Gender Stereotypes

Gender stereotypes reflect disadvantage for women in male-dominated domains because women are generally less likely than men to be associated with leadership. There is no only mismatch between leadership stereotypes and female stereotypes. Also, it is about seeing women as powerful. Lots of men have biases toward women. Researchers have shown that individuals tend to hold negative stereotypes of female managers. Many kinds of research have shown, female managers have attributed more negative attributes compared to male managers. All of those create a “glass ceiling which prevents women’s raising as much as men in the workplace. Also, it creates more conflict and resentment among employees. So, eliminating the stereotype is very important to provide a productive workplace (Latu & Schmid Mast, 2016).

Racial Stereotypes

Any action that rates people differently because of their skin color, mother tongue, or racial characteristics is classified as racism. So, people may encounter some racist behaviors in the workplace. For example, giving hiring decisions that looking for candidates who have a certain race. Or hostility due to someone’s race, such as telling a black woman she is too aggressive or criticizing Muslim colleagues as those who accept a violent religion. Sometimes people may have unconscious biases and don’t even realize they have discriminated against others. To sum up, both employees and employers need to be proactive in the workplace. So, they can be well-informed on this subject (Thompson, 2019).

Age Stereotypes

Pew Research Council has shown there is an increase of older employees in the workplace. Because there is age discrimination in lots of workplaces. It will become a greater issue in the future. Therefore, it is necessary to have strategic planning to avoid age-related issues. Older employees can bring with them years of experience, tried and true ideas, and problem-solving skills in the business environment. While the new generation has important dynamics and energy. They can see the current points of view. Therefore, multi-generational workplaces can come up with lots of diversities. To sum up, if the selection mismanaged, and biased toward a specific age it can lead to unsatisfied employees and harm business efficiency. So, eliminating age discrimination in the workplace helps anybody to have an equal opportunity and develop their skills regardless of their ages (Dyson, ?).

Sexual Orientation Stereotypes

Researchers have shown that people have stereotypes toward some jobs as ‘gay jobs’, but none as ‘lesbian jobs’. Also, heterosexual male-typed jobs were higher prestige than gay-typed jobs (Hancock, Clarke, & Arnold, 2020) So, many LGBT workers keep their sexual orientation as a secret because they experience fear of discriminatory treatment. Even, they encounter violence. LGBT respondents reported that they were changing the name of their partners in workplace conversations. Also, they simply avoid the discussion of their private lives. That’s why all of these can lead to considerable anxiety and loss of productivity in the workplace. It requires us to stand up against all kinds of stigma, biases toward homophobia, and transphobia which fostering the discriminations (Collins, 2007).


Collins, G. M. (2007). Encountering stereotype threat in the workplace: how lesbian, gay, bisexual, and tr, bisexual, and transgender employees meet the challenge of negative stereotyping.


Hancock, A. J., Clarke, H. M., & Arnold, K. A. (2020). Sexual orientation occupational stereotypes. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 103427.

Latu, l., & Schmid Mast, M. (2016). The Effects of Stereotypes of Women’s Performance in Male-Dominated Hierarchies: Stereotype Threat Activation and Reduction Through Role Models

Thompson, J. (2019, January 24). How to Prevent Racism in the Workplace