Exposure to counter-stereotypic gender role models (e.g. a woman engineer) has been shown to successfully reduce the application of biased gender stereotypes. We tested the hypothesis that such efforts may more generally lessen the application of stereotypic knowledge in other (non-gendered) domains. Specifically based on the notion that counter-stereotypes can stimulate a lesser reliance on heuristic thinking we predicted that contesting gender stereotypes would eliminate a more general group prototypicality bias in the selection of leaders. Three studies supported this hypothesis. After exposing participants to a counter-stereotypic gender role model group prototypicality no longer predicted leadership evaluation and selection. We discuss the implications of these findings for groups and organizations seeking to capitalize on the benefits of an increasingly diverse workforce.
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