Deeply anchored? Gender stereotypes and (social) law | Max-Planck-Institut für Sozialrecht und Sozialpolitik - MPISOC

Deeply anchored? Gender stereotypes and (social) law

2003 the German Federal Minister for Family Affairs Schmidt, stated that "legal equality between women and men has been achieved" (Bundestag protocol 15/31, 13.03.2003, p. 2379 (B)). However, today, more than 20 years after this statement, women are still de facto disadvantaged in many respects. How can this discrepancy between (presumably) established formal legal equality and the persisting gender gap be explained? One partial explanation for this disparity could be gender stereotypes that imperceptibly influence everyday thoughts and behaviors. Research in the field of social psychology indicates that, although the gender gap has been statistically minimized in recent years, stereotypical ideas about women and men have proven resistant to change over this period.

This interdisciplinary dissertation explores the question of whether laws and subsequent decisions are covertly influenced by gender stereotypes. The study is based on the findings of social psychology on (gender) stereotypes. It will explore the importance of stereotypes for human thinking, how they efficiently structure daily information processing, and which unnoticed misconceptions and distortions are associated with them. A method an how to detect gender stereotypes that are entrenched in the law will be developed. Following this the example of social law is used to showcase specific laws and decisions that are influenced by gender stereotypes.


Madeleine Beul