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Abstract

I designed a mixed methods study to explore the role of gender stereotypes and discrimination in the gender pay gap problem. I concentrate my study on occupations that require professional degrees—lawyer, veterinarian, and clinical social worker—because of the severity of the gender pay for women with professional degrees relative to women with lower levels of education. I address a gap in the existing literature by focusing on the beliefs and actions of a group that has largely been ignored by researchers: clients. I distributed a factorial vignette survey to participants from a crowdsourcing website (potential clients) to test if individuals hold negative stereotypes about women professionals’ work competency. I also conducted interviews with individuals who have hired lawyers, veterinarians, and clinical social workers to address their personal problems. These interviews allow me to examine whether clients exhibit patterns of discrimination against women professionals. I present my results in three articles. My results reveal that clients possess and act on gender stereotypes about professionals that likely reinforce gendered work segregation and the devaluation of professional fields dominated by women workers.

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