How Culture Shapes gender Stereotypes?

This page is a summary of a study published by The Harvard Business School

Click on the link to access the study:



The higher status groups, the elites, tend to be viewed as possessing more of whatever skills their society most value i.e. CEOs, Politicians, WASP.


Male as a group possess a higher status in almost all communities, and therefore across different cultures and different traits, the male are seen as cultural ideals, possessing whatever traits are chronically or temporarily valued leaving the woman to a second rank behind. 



Three experiments were run on the samples below :

South Korea Sample: One hundred undergraduate students (52% female, Average age = 22.0) at the Korean University in Seoul, South Korea completed the questionnaire in exchange for course credit. United States Sample : One hundred undergraduate students (56% female, Average age = 20.1) 


In Study 1, Americans rated men as less interdependent than women; Koreans, however, showed the opposite pattern, rating men as more interdependent than women, deviating from the “universal” gender stereotype of male independence. 


In Study 2, bi-cultural Korean American participants rated men as less interdependent if they completed a survey in English, but as more interdependent if they completed the survey in Korean, demonstrating how cultural frames influence the contents of gender stereotypes. 


In Study 3, American college students rated a male student as higher on whichever trait – ambitiousness or sociability – they were told was the most important cultural value at their university, establishing that cultural values causally impact the contents of gender stereotypes. 


Men are independent; women are interdependent. Westerners are independent; East Asians are interdependent. Both of these statements have overwhelming empirical support, yet taken together they raise a potential paradox: Are East Asian males seen as independent – reflecting the universal male stereotype – or as interdependent – reflecting the values of their culture? 


One prediction is two main effects: East Asians are seen as more interdependent than Westerners, and within each culture, men are seen as more independent than women. Instead, the studies suggest a counterintuitive interaction: Men are seen as embodying those traits that are most culturally valued, such that while American men are seen as more independent than American women, Korean men are actually seen as more interdependent than Korean women. More broadly, the studies demonstrate that men are seen as possessing more of any traits that are culturally valued – whether chronically or temporarily – such that men serve as cultural ideals.


The study proposes that men are seen as embodying cultural ideals: Where independence is valued (such as in the United States), men will be seen as more independent than women; where interdependence is valued (such as in South Korea), men will be perceived as more interdependent than women. In short, we suggest that gender stereotypes are not universal, but rather are moderated.


Given their dominance in virtually all cultures, men are believed to possess more of the

characteristics that are most culturally valued, whatever those characteristics are. In addition, this prediction is not limited only to stereotypes of independence and interdependence – Study suggests that when any trait is culturally valued, that trait becomes linked to males.



# My ideal vs my country’s cultural ideal :

  1. Name the personality traits that you feel are needed in your country to be successful : sociable, individualist, emotional/controlled, organised.

  2. Test yourself : Click on the button below and enter your country in the dropdown menu to see the cultural values that prevail in your country

  3. How different is it from your views?