Employees are increasingly pushing back retirement leading to an older and higher proportion of older employees in the workplace. In fact, the SHRM Workplace Forecast (2013) released by The Society for Human Resource’s listed the generation gap as a top future workplace trend. In addition, women are to becoming more and more a part of today’s workforce. However, both older individuals and women remain highly stereotyped groups.
A majority of workplace stereotypes toward older adults and women are unfounded and serve as unfair hurdles towards these groups. A common stereotype of elder individuals is that they are less innovative than their younger peers. As a result they are often excluded from innovative-related tasks. However, a meta-analysis by Ng and Feldman (2013) found this to be false; in fact, they posit that work experience has the potential to increase innovation. Such inaccurate perceptions may lead to these groups to loose out on opportunities such as job offers or promotion consideration.
Stereotypes are the knowledge, beliefs, and expectancies that an individual uses when forming perceptions about different social groups (Hamilton et al., 1990). They are used to describe what individuals should be like. The qualities ascribed from the descriptive stereotypes are used to form a societal prescription of how certain groups of people should act (Prentice & Carranza, 2002). These prescriptive stereotypes are particularly problematic in the workplace as they lay the norms for how specific groups should behave. When individuals go against such norms, negative reactions are often revoked for behaving counterstereoty...
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