The femininity-money incongruity hypothesis: Money and femininity reminders undermine women’s cognitive performance

Jill Allen, Sarah J. Gervais

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Women are often stereotyped as poorly equipped to deal with money matters, compared to men, yet very little research has examined the underpinnings and consequences of such gender stereotypes. Drawing on descriptive and prescriptive elements of women’s social roles, we empirically examined the gendered nature of money stereotypes. Specifically in the current work, we introduced and investigated the femininity-money incongruity hypothesis, which suggests that when the concepts of femininity and money are both cognitively activated, money will become a liability for women, causing decrements in cognitive functioning. We first probed the role of gender identity and benevolent sexism beliefs in women’s endorsement of money- gender stereotypes. In two subsequent experiments, we tested the hypothesis that simultaneously activating money and femininity would lead to decrements in cognitive functioning. Converging results across studies suggest that money is incompatible with the stereotypic female gender identity, and this incongruity has detrimental cognitive costs for women as they navigate gender roles. Implications of societal challenges imposed on women by gender stereotypes regarding money matters at work and in relationship contexts and proposed interventions are discussed. Additional online materials for this article are available on PWQ’s website at

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)407-419
Number of pages13
JournalPsychology of Women Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Cognition
  • Gender roles
  • Money
  • Sexism
  • Stroop

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology


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