In a bygone era, the macho stereotype of the maverick doctor bucking convention, or the Marine running toward danger rather than away from it, inspired young men to want to be bold.
No longer. Modern youth have become so convinced that being bold is a negative that they perceive occupations like that as a 'macho' stereotype and are driven away because they do not feel competent. Although numerous papers have noted the negative impact of gendered workplace stereotypes on women, far less attention has been paid to their effect on men.
Although there is much evidence of the negative impact of gendered workplace stereotypes on women, far less attention has been paid to their effect on men. In a two part study of 218 Royal Marine recruits and 117 male surgical trainees
in the British Journal of Psychology, the psychologists found that simply being a man isn't enough to protect from the 'corrosive effects' of these macho stereotypes.
Professor Michelle Ryan of the University of Exeter said, "Women have made substantial inroads into some traditionally masculine occupations, but not into others. There is evidence that the latter group of occupations is characterized by the hyper-masculine 'macho' stereotypes that are especially disadvantageous to women. We explored whether these macho occupational stereotypes that are associated with marine commandos and surgeons also discourage men who feel that they 'are not man enough'."
They also say that new male recruits a perceived 'lack of fit' with masculine commandos was associated with reduced identification and motivation within their occupation. Furthermore, they discovered that male surgical trainees who didn't feel they fitted in were more likely to want to leave the profession.
Women are currently excluded from the Royal Marines but make up around 25 percent of surgical trainees and 9 percent of surgical consultants.
Despite the domination of macho stereotypes, the researchers say their findings offer hope for more equality in the future.
"We've shown that the men who enter into and remain within such occupations will be those who exemplify the occupation's macho stereotypes. Intriguingly, this suggests that increasing the appeal of these occupations to a more diverse range of men may be one way of increasing their appeal to women," said Dr. Kim Peters of the University of Queensland.