Can a Group of Musicians be Composed of Women?: Generic Interpretation of French Masculine Role Names in the Absence and Presence of Feminine Forms

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The malleability of the generic interpretation of masculine role names in French was investigated by manipulating readers' exposure to feminine forms. In two experiments, participants were to decide whether a person introduced by a kinship term (e.g., sister) could be part of a group represented by a role name (e.g., nurse, musicians). In Experiment 1, role names were presented in the masculine form in the first part and in either the masculine or the feminine form in the second part. Independent of role name stereotypicality, participants were less likely to relate female kinship terms to role names in the masculine form and even less likely when they were also exposed to feminine forms. These results were replicated in a second experiment, in which the communication source was varied: Before performing the experimental task, participants read job advertisements that either used only the masculine or both the masculine and the feminine form. When feminine forms were added, the generic interpretation of the masculine form decreased, even when the feminine forms were provided by a different source.

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