Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

We tested Kanter's (1977a, 1977b) theory concerning the effects of group proportions (sex ratios) on visibility, polarization and assimilation, using natural groups of women and men in academia. Study 1 compared male-skewed and male-tilted settings and found evidence of greater polarization by minority women than majority men. The only effect of group proportions occurred for perceived dispersion as a measure of assimilation; replicating Brown and Smith (1989), men showed an out-group (OH), and women an in-group (IH), homogeneity effect, and both effects were accentuated in the skewed setting. Study 2 extended the research to include male-skewed, male-tilted, balanced and female-tilted sex ratios. Men's OH effect declined as relative out-group size increased, and women's IH effect declined as relative in-group size increased. There was also a linear decrease in relative perceived in-group impact and status as actual relative in-group size declined. We discuss our findings with respect to the validity of Kanter's theory, gender and group size as moderators of perceived variability, and methodological issues in studying diversity. Copyright © 2006 Sage Publications.

Original publication




Journal article


Group Processes and Intergroup Relations

Publication Date





509 - 532