Brilliance as deviance

Brilliance as deviance

2021. május 20. 14:00



2021. május 20. 14:00 -


SGM Open Lab Meeting is a series of talks organized by the Social Groups and Media Research Lab (ELTE Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest), where we welcome everyone who is interested in research in the field of social psychology.

The title of the next talk:
Brilliance as deviance: Gender-role incongruity as another barrier for women’s access to academic fields


  • Inna Ksenofontov (University of Osnabrück, Germany),
  • Alexandra Fleischmann (University of Cologne, Germany),
  • Rotem Kahalon (University of Zürich, Switzerland),
  • Boglárka Nyúl (ELTE Eötvös Loránd University, Hungary)

Location: Online (on Zoom)
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Date/Time: 20 May 2021 14:00 (Central European Time)


Women are underrepresented in STEM-fields and high-level academic positions. One reason for this might be beliefs about “brilliance”. Brilliance, the extreme intellectual ability, is stereotypically more ascribed to men than to women. Academic fields, in which brilliance is portrayed as a prerequisite for success, are occupied by fewer women. Women apply less for these positions, partly, because they feel dissimilar to people holding them. In this context, we propose that gender roles pose another barrier to women. We suggest that traits associated with brilliance are incongruent with the female gender role, and more strongly overlap with the male gender role. Being brilliant is a larger deviation from prescribed gender roles for women than for men. This puts women at a higher risk of experiencing backlash. In the first preregistered study (N = 108), participants rated a brilliant person higher on masculine than feminine traits, and as more similar to a typical man than to a typical woman. In Study 2 (N = 148), as preregistered, an average intelligent and a brilliant man were rated as more similar on gender-specific traits than an average intelligent and a brilliant woman. We discuss the implications of our findings for cultural stereotypes of brilliance.