Unpacking the Status-Leveling Burden for Women in Male-Dominated Occupations

M. Teresa Cardador, Patrick L. Hill, Arghavan Salles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The challenges faced by women in male-dominated occupations are often attributed to the men in, and masculine cultures of, these occupations—and sometimes to senior women in these occupations who may fail to give a “leg up” to the women coming up behind them. As such, prior research has largely focused on challenges that women experience from those of higher or equal status within the occupation and on the negative climate that surrounds women in these positions. We introduce a novel challenge, the status-leveling burden, which is the pressure put on women in male-dominated occupations from women in occupations lower in the institutional hierarchy to be their equal. Drawing on interviews with 45 surgeons, we present a model that unpacks this status-leveling burden. Our research makes novel contributions to the literatures on challenges to women in male-dominated occupations and on shared demography in cross-occupational collaboration, and it suggests new avenues for research at the intersection of gender and occupational status in the workplace.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)237-284
Number of pages48
JournalAdministrative Science Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • cross-occupational collaboration
  • demography
  • diversity
  • equity
  • gender
  • hierarchy
  • inequality
  • inequity
  • intergroup relations
  • medicine
  • occupations/professions
  • status
  • status-leveling
  • surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration


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