Tellhed, U., Björklund, F., & Kallio Strand, K. (2023). Tech-Savvy Men and Caring Women: Middle School Students’ Gender Stereotypes Predict Interest in Tech-Education. Sex Roles, 1-19.

The labor market is strongly gender segregated with few women working in the tech sector (e.g., IT) and few men working in the care sector (e.g., nursing). We tested the hypothesis that middle school students strongly associate technology with men and caregiving with women in a Swedish context (i.e., a country that scores high in gender equality indices), and that these gender stereotypes for tech relate to girls’ lower interest in tech-focused education. We measured technology/caregiving gender stereotypes with implicit (the Implicit Association Test) and explicit (self-report) measures in a sample of middle school students (n = 873). The results supported the main hypotheses, and corroborate Eccles’s expectancy value theory, indicating that the endorsement of implicit gender stereotypes may serve as barriers to pursuing masculine-typed career paths for women. Further, a sample of middle school teachers (n = 86) showed stronger implicit gender stereotypes than the students. Unexpectedly, middle school girls with a foreign background showed no implicit gender stereotypes, which we discuss in relation to the gender-equality paradox. These findings suggest that to fulfill the recruitment needs of an increasingly digitalized world, the tech-industry and other stakeholders should put effort into counteracting the stereotype that technology is for men.