A take-charge attitude at work typically earns men positive performance reviews, but for women, assertiveness only gets them so far. Although workplace evaluations are supposed to be merit-based, the study finds that gender bias too often influences how supervisors rate employees, resulting in women having to meet a higher bar than their male colleagues to advance professionally.

Published in the American Sociological Review, the paper pinpoints how and when managers’ beliefs about gender enter their evaluations of workers.

“Where we find the bigger biases are in evaluations of people’s personalities, their future potential, and on the mentions of exceptionalism,” says study coauthor Shelley J. Correll, professor of organizational behavior (by courtesy) at Stanford University Graduate School of Business. “So if we want to get rid of biases, we need to look at the areas where biases are more likely—personality, potential, and who’s truly exceptional.”

Correll worked with coauthors Alison T. Wynn and JoAnne Wehner, both research associates with the Stanford VMware Women’s Leadership Innovation Lab, and Katherine Weisshaar, who earned her PhD in sociology from Stanford in 2016 and is now an assistant professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

They meticulously coded the language used in performance reviews of employees at a Fortune 500 technology company and analyzed the numeric ratings on worker evaluations. Using the “viewing and valuing social cognitive processing” model, the scholars identified which employee behaviors managers noticed (viewed) and which ones they rated highly (valued).

Read the full article about gender stereotypes and performance reviews at Futurity.