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Marie Gustafsson SendénAssociate professor, Docent

About me

As a social psychologist my reserch areas focus gender, languge and gender equality at work.  For exampe, how gender diversity interventions influence potential candidates’ reactions to gender diversity interventions in personnel selection, or what types of gender diversity interventions that leads to the best working climate. 

In language studies, I assess social psychology phenomema by linguistic behaviour. I have used personal pronouns to study processes like self- and group serving biases as well as gender stereotypes. In current research projects, we investigate how a gender-neutral pronoun influence gender perceptions, identities and stereotypes (  I use both experimental methods and computerized text analyses, such as Latent Semantic Analysis (Landauer & Dumais, 1997), LIWC  ( In relation to gender we have developed dictionaries to assess agency and communion in large text corpora. I have developed an experimental task to test how people spontaneously use pronouns which has been used successfully both to assess self- and group serving biases as well as gender stereotyping. 

In a project financed by FORTE; we study how organizational communication influence perceptions of gender equality, gender distributions and perceived fit with the organization.

Another line of applied reserach investigates physicians’ health and career development from an intersectional perspective. Two large surveys have been completed ( This European reserch project targets both organizational and indvidual factors that contribute to helath and development among physicians. Of special interest is how gender and etbnicity-based  harassment affect career paths and health. 

Studies on hen and gender-fair language are financed by the, Swedish Research Council, Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, and Forte. Studies on physician health was financed by AFA



A selection from Stockholm University publication database

  • The multiple meanings of the gender-inclusive pronoun hen

    2022. Emma A. Renström, Anna Lindqvist, Marie Gustafsson Sendén. European Journal of Social Psychology


    The Swedish gender-inclusive pronoun hen can be used generically (referring to anyone), or specifically (referring to non-binary gender identities). Three studies tested evaluations and use of hen, and individual-level predictors. In Study 1 (N = 2145), specific hen was slightly favoured over generic hen. In Study 2 (N = 297), hen was more negatively evaluated than binary pronouns, and generic hen was more positively evaluated than specific hen. In Study 3 (N = 450), hen was less frequently used compared to binary pronouns overall but preferred in generic contexts. Traditionalism mainly predicted attitudes towards generic hen and beliefs about gender, as binary mainly predicted attitudes towards specific hen, although the pattern varied across studies. Because hen was preferred in generic contexts, but not in specific ones, this work has implications for understanding the non-acceptance of non-binary gender identities since the traditional binary notion of gender still is strong.

    Read more about The multiple meanings of the gender-inclusive pronoun hen
  • From believing to doing

    2021. David Bergman, Marie Gustafsson Sendén, Erik Berntson. Frontiers in Psychology 12


    The current study examined the association between leadership self-efficacy and the developmental leadership model. The purpose is to better understand how leadership training transfers to facets of developmental leadership. This was tested in a cross-sectional design with military commanders in the Swedish armed forces. The results show that the sub-domain of leader self-control efficacy (the cognitive and emotional ability to remain composure) did predict developmental leadership in only one dimension of being an exemplary model, but that leader assertiveness efficacy (the ability to make rational decisions) predicted the two dimensions of exemplary model and inspiration & motivation in developmental leadership. One possibility is that leader self-control efficacy can be what enables the individual to function within an extreme context, but leader assertiveness efficacy can be what most determine the leadership performance within that context. The possibility for mediatory analyses in further research is discussed.

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  • Gender Stereotypes in Student Evaluations of Teaching

    2021. Emma A. Renström, Marie Gustafsson Sendén, Anna Lindqvist. Frontiers in Education 5


    This paper tests how gender stereotypes may result in biased student evaluations of teaching (SET). We thereby contribute to an ongoing discussion about the validity and use of SET in academia. According to social psychological theory, gender biases in SET may occur because of a lack of fit between gender stereotypes, and the professional roles individuals engage in. A lack of fit often leads to more negative evaluations. Given that the role as a lecturer is associated with masculinity, women might suffer from biased SET because gender stereotypes indicate that they do not fit with this role. In two 2 × 2 between groups online experiments (N's = 400 and 452), participants read about a fictitious woman or man lecturer, described in terms of stereotypically feminine or masculine behavior, and evaluated the lecturer on different SET outcomes. Results showed that women lecturers were not disfavored in general, but that described feminine or masculine behaviors led to gendered evaluations of the lecturer. The results were especially pronounced in Experiment 2 where a lecturer described as displaying feminine behaviors was expected to also be more approachable, was better liked and the students rather attended their course. However, a lecturer displaying masculine behaviors were instead perceived as being more competent, a better pedagogue and leader. Gender incongruent behavior was therefore not sanctioned by lower SET. The results still support that SET should not be used as sole indicators of pedagogic ability of a lecturer for promotion and hiring decisions because they may be gender-biased.

    Read more about Gender Stereotypes in Student Evaluations of Teaching
  • Gender diversity in recruitment

    2021. Amanda Klysing (et al.). Journal of Applied Social Psychology


    The current research addresses gender trouble (acts that question the naturalness of a binary gender system) in two parts of the recruitment situation: applicant attraction and evaluation. Experiment 1 (N = 1,147) investigated how different Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) statements in an organization description influenced organizational evaluations. The EEO statements emphasized gender as binary (women and men), gender as diverse (multi-gender), or gender as irrelevant (de-gender; compared with no EEO statement). Gender minority participants experienced decreased identity threat in response to the multi-gendered and the de-gendered EEO statements, which increased organizational attractivity. There was no significant effect of EEO statement for gender majority participants. Multi-gendered and de-gendered EEO statements increased perceived gender diversity within the organization. Experiment 2 (N = 214) investigated how applicants with a normative or non-normative gender expression were evaluated by HR-specialists. Applicants with a non-normative gender expression were rated as more suitable for the position and recommended a higher starting salary than applicants with a normative gender expression. Women with a non-normative gender expression were rated as more likely to be employed than men with a non-normative gender expression, while women applicants regardless of gender expression were rated as the most likely to acquire the position. This research indicates that gender minorities can be explicitly included in EEO statements without negative impact on gender majority groups and with a positive impact on gender minority groups. Furthermore, a non-normative gender expression was not found to be a cause for biased evaluations in an initial recruitment situation.

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  • Pronouns Beyond the Binary

    2021. Marie Gustafsson Sendén, Emma Renström, Anna Lindqvist. Gender & Society 35 (4), 588-615


    Gender-inclusive language, such as the Swedish pronoun hen, may aid in breaking a binary notion of gender and avoid sexism. The present study followed the implementation of a gender-inclusive third-person pronoun singular (hen) in Swedish in two surveys with representative samples in 2015 (at the time when hen was introduced in the official Swedish dictionary; N = 1212) and in 2018 (N = 2009). The surveys comprised measures of attitudes toward, and use of, hen as well as possible predictors such as area of residence, age, preferred pronoun, political orientation, and interest in gender issues. Results showed that attitudes toward hen became more positive and that use of hen increased between 2015 and 2018. About half of the population used hen in their communication in 2018, which is a 14-percentage-point increase from 2015. Younger age, she or hen as preferred pronoun, political left-wing orientation, and interest in gender issues predicted a more positive attitude and a more frequent use. Furthermore, the positive change between 2015 and 2018 was larger among younger people, indicating that hen will remain in the Swedish language. The present research is unique in that it follows a gender-fair language initiative during its implementation in representative samples, thereby providing insights for social movements aiming for gender-fair language. We also discuss the theoretical implications of a gender-inclusive pronoun in comparison with past studies on gender-fair language.

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  • Psychometric Properties and Correlates of Precarious Manhood Beliefs in 62 Nations

    2021. Jennifer K. Bosson (et al.). Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 52 (3), 231-258


    Precarious manhood beliefs portray manhood, relative to womanhood, as a social status that is hard to earn, easy to lose, and proven via public action. Here, we present cross-cultural data on a brief measure of precarious manhood beliefs (the Precarious Manhood Beliefs scale [PMB]) that covaries meaningfully with other cross-culturally validated gender ideologies and with country-level indices of gender equality and human development. Using data from university samples in 62 countries across 13 world regions (N = 33,417), we demonstrate: (1) the psychometric isomorphism of the PMB (i.e., its comparability in meaning and statistical properties across the individual and country levels); (2) the PMB's distinctness from, and associations with, ambivalent sexism and ambivalence toward men; and (3) associations of the PMB with nation-level gender equality and human development. Findings are discussed in terms of their statistical and theoretical implications for understanding widely-held beliefs about the precariousness of the male gender role.

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  • Are New Gender-Neutral Pronouns Difficult to Process in Reading? The Case of Hen in SWEDISH

    2020. Hellen P. Vergoossen (et al.). Frontiers in Psychology 11


    Hen is a Swedish gender-neutral pronoun used for non-binary individuals and as a generic singular pronoun form. Hen was added to the Swedish Academy Glossary (SAOL) in 2015, and opponents of hen have argued that gender-neutral pronouns are difficult to process, and therefore should not be used. As of yet, this has not been empirically tested. This pre-registered study used eye-tracking to experimentally test if hen has a processing cost by measuring the process of understanding whom a pronoun refers to (i.e., pronoun resolution). Participants (N = 120) read 48 sentence pairs where the first sentence included a noun referring to a person (e.g., sister, hairdresser, person) and the second included a pronoun referring to the noun. The pronouns were either gendered (she and he) or gender-neutral (hen). The nouns were either neutral (e.g., person, colleague) or gendered, either by lexically referring to gender (e.g., sister, king), or by being associated with stereotypes based on occupational gender segregation (e.g., occupational titles like hairdresser, carpenter). We tested if hen had a greater processing cost than gendered pronouns, and whether the type of noun moderated this effect. The hypotheses were that hen referring to neutral nouns would lead to a smaller processing cost than hen referring to gendered nouns. Furthermore, we hypothesized that hen referring to lexically gendered nouns would lead to larger processing costs than stereotypically gendered role nouns. The processing cost of hen was measured by reading time spent on three regions of the sentence pairs; the pronoun, the spillover region (i.e., the words following the pronoun), and the noun. The only processing cost for hen occurred in the spillover region. The processing cost in this region was greater when hen referred to neutral nouns than when hen referred to a noun associated with gender. In contrast to the hypothesis, the type of gender information associated with the noun did not interact with these effects (i.e., the same reading time for hen following e.g., the queen or carpenter). Altogether, the results do not support that gender-neutral pronouns should be avoided because they are difficult to process.

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  • Direct and sustained effects on leadership self-efficacy due to the inability to complete a parachute training course

    2020. David Bergman, Marie Gustafsson Sendén, Erik Berntson. Nordic Psychology 72 (3), 222-234


    The present study examined a parachute training course intended to improve the leadership abilities of future military officers. Two research questions were examined. First, whether there were any differences between completers and non-completers in anxiety, stress, and collective identity at the beginning of the course (time 1), and second, whether there were any differences between completers and non-completers in leadership self-efficacy immediately after the course and at a five-month follow-up (time 2 and time 3). Participants were cadets from the Swedish Military Academy undergoing the course as part of their officer training curriculum. The results showed no significant differences between completers and non-completers in anxiety, stress, and collective identity at the beginning of the course (time 1). Non-completers showed a significant reduction in leader self-control efficacy compared to those who completed the training immediately after the course and at a five-month follow-up (time 2 and 3). Overall, these results indicate that non-completion of this type of demanding training could have negative effects on the individual's leader self-control efficacy.

    Read more about Direct and sustained effects on leadership self-efficacy due to the inability to complete a parachute training course
  • Four Dimensions of Criticism Against Gender-Fair Language

    2020. Hellen Petronella Vergoossen (et al.). Sex Roles 83 (5-6), 328-337


    The gender-neutral third-person pronoun singularhenwas recently introduced in Swedish as a complement to she (hon) and he (han). The initiative to addheninitially received strong criticism. In the present study, we analyzed 208 arguments from 168 participants with critical attitudes towardhen. We used Blaubergs' (1980) and Parks and Roberton's (1998) taxonomies of critical arguments against past gender-fair language reforms in English in the 1970s and 1990s as a basis for coding the arguments. A majority of arguments (80.7%) could be coded into existing categories, indicating that criticisms of gender-fair language initiatives are similar across different times and cultural contexts. Two categories of arguments did not fit existing categories (19.3%): gender-neutral pronouns are distracting in communication and gender information is important in communication. Furthermore, we established four overarching dimensions that capture assumptions and beliefs underlying gender-fair language criticism: (a) Defending the Linguistic Status Quo (39.4%), (b) Sexism and Cisgenderism (27.4%), (c) Diminishing the Issue and Its Proponents (26.9%), and (d) Distractor In Communication (6.3%). These dimensions of criticisms should be considered and addressed in different ways when implementing gender-fair language.

    Read more about Four Dimensions of Criticism Against Gender-Fair Language
  • Of Caring Nurses and Assertive Police Officers

    2020. Marie Gustafsson Sendén, Alice Eagly, Sabine Sczesny. Social Psychology and Personality Science 11 (6), 743-751


    Three studies demonstrated the expression of gender stereotypes in linguistic behavior. In Study 1, participants composed sentences describing a person by freely choosing from female- or male-dominated occupations, female or male pronouns, and communal or agentic traits. In Study 2a, participants chose traits to describe a person identified by a female- or male-dominated occupation and in Study 2b by a female or male pronoun and noun. In Study 3, participants chose traits for a person identified by both a female- or male-dominated occupation and a female or male pronoun. In general, participants chose more communal and fewer agentic traits for sentences containing a female- (vs. male-) dominated occupation and a female (vs. male) pronoun or noun. However, participants described women and men in the same occupation as similarly agentic or communal, demonstrating the primacy of role over sex information as predicted by social role theory.

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  • Defending the Sex/Gender Binary

    2020. Thekla Morgenroth (et al.). Social Psychology and Personality Science


    In the Western world, gender/sex is traditionally viewed as binary, with people falling into one of two categories: male or female. This view of gender/sex has started to change, triggering some resistance. This research investigates psychological mechanisms underlying that resistance. Study 1 (N= 489, UK) explored the role of individual gender identification in defense of, and attempts to reinforce, the gender/sex binary. Study 2 (N= 415, Sweden) further considered the role of individual differences in need for closure. Both gender identification and need for closure were associated with binary views of gender/sex, prejudice against nonbinary people, and opposition to the use of gender-neutral pronouns. Policies that aim to abolish gender/sex categories, but not policies that advocate for a third gender/sex category, were seen as particularly unfair among people high in gender identification. These findings are an important step in understanding the psychology of resistance to change around binary systems of gender/sex.

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  • What is gender, anyway

    2020. Anna Lindqvist, Marie Gustafsson Sendén, Emma A. Renström. Psychology & Sexuality


    In the social sciences, many quantitative research findings as well as presentations of demographics are related to participants' gender. Most often, gender is represented by a dichotomous variable with the possible responses of woman/man or female/male, although gender is not a binary variable. It is, however, rarely defined what is meant by gender. In this article, we deconstruct the concept 'gender' as consisting of several facets, and argue that the researcher needs to identify relevant aspects of gender in relation to their research question. We make a thorough exposition of considerations that the researcher should bear in mind when formulating questions about each facet, in order to exemplify how complex this construct is. We also remind the researcher that gender is not a binary category and discuss challenges in the balance between taking existing gender diversity into account and yet sorting participants into gender categorisations that function in statistical analyzes. To aid in this process, we provide an empirical example on how gender identity may be categorised when using a free-text response. Lastly, we suggest that other measurements than participants' gender might be better predictors of the outcome variable.

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  • The (Not So) Changing Man

    2019. Marie Gustafsson Sendén (et al.). Frontiers in Psychology 10


    According to Social Role Theory, gender stereotypes are dynamic constructs influenced by actual and perceived changes in what roles women and men occupy (Wood and Eagly, 2011). Sweden is ranked as one of the most egalitarian countries in the world, with a strong national equality discourse and a relatively high number of men engaging in traditionally communal roles such as parenting and domestic tasks. This would imply a perceived change toward higher communion among men. Therefore, we investigated the dynamics of gender stereotype content in Sweden with a primary interest in the male stereotype and perceptions of gender equality. In Study 1, participants (N = 323) estimated descriptive stereotype content of women and men in Sweden in the past, present, or future. They also estimated gender distribution in occupations and domestic roles for each time-point. Results showed that the female stereotype increased in agentic traits from the past to the present, whereas the male stereotype showed no change in either agentic or communal traits. Furthermore, participants estimated no change in gender stereotypes for the future, and they overestimated how often women and men occupy gender non-traditional roles at present. In Study 2, we controlled for participants' actual knowledge about role change by either describing women's increased responsibilities on the job market, or men's increased responsibility at home (or provided no description). Participants (N = 648) were randomized to the three different conditions. Overall, women were perceived to increase in agentic traits, and this change was mediated by perceptions of social role occupation. Men where not perceived to increase in communion but decreased in agency when change focused on women's increased participation in the labor market. These results indicate that role change among women also influence perceptions of the male stereotype. Altogether, the results indicate that social roles might have stronger influence on perceptions of agency than perceptions of communion, and that communion could be harder to incorporate in the male stereotype.

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Show all publications by Marie Gustafsson Sendén at Stockholm University