The underrepresentation of women in science: differential commitment or the queen bee syndrome?

Naomi Ellemers, Henriette van den Heuvel, Dick de Gilder, Anne Maass, Alessandra Bonvini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


We examined possible explanations for the underrepresentation of women among university faculty, in two different national contexts. In the Netherlands, a sample of doctoral students (N = 132) revealed no gender differences in work commitment or work satisfaction. Faculty members in the same university (N = 179), however, perceived female students to be less committed to their work and female faculty endorsed these gender-stereotypical perceptions most strongly. A second study, in Italy, replicated and extended these findings. Again, no gender differences were obtained in the self-descriptions of male and female doctoral students (N = 80), while especially the female faculty (N = 93) perceived female students as less committed to their work than male students. Additional measures supported an explanation in social identity terms, according to which individual upward mobility (i.e. of female faculty) implies distancing the self from the group stereotype which not only involves perceiving the self as a non-prototypical group member, but may also elicit stereotypical views of other in-group members.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-338
Number of pages24
JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2004


  • Adult
  • Demography
  • Faculty/statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Italy/epidemiology
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Male
  • Netherlands/epidemiology
  • Science/statistics & numerical data
  • Sex Factors
  • Stereotyping
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Universities/statistics & numerical data


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