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Women cry, men get angry: how street-level bureaucrats respond when clients exhibit counter-stereotypical behavior

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  • Mette Bisgaard
  • ,
  • Mogens Jin Pedersen, Københavns Universitet, Danmark

How do street-level bureaucrats perceive a client and react when the client exhibits behavior deviating from gender-stereotypical expectations? Introducing a new approach to the study of gender bias in citizen-state interactions, this article focuses on the intersection between clients’ demographic characteristics, behavior, and gender-stereotypical expectations. Using data from a randomized laboratory experiment among child visitation rights caseworkers in Denmark, we examine caseworker responses to two distinct audio vignettes from a meeting in which a client exhibits emotion-based behavior characterized by gender-stereotypical expectations. The two vignettes capture the act of crying and the showing of anger, respectively. We find that caseworkers perceive counter-stereotypical client behavior as more pronounced than stereotypical client behavior: An angry female client is perceived as angrier and more aggressive than an angry male client. Moreover, caseworkers are more inclined to react negatively when female relative to male clients elicit emotion-based behavior that is counter gender-stereotypical.

TidsskriftInternational Public Management Journal
Sider (fra-til)280-299
Antal sider20
StatusUdgivet - 2022

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