Tania A. Reynolds , Postdoc at the Kinsey Institute, and her colleagues have found that in several studies there is a gender bias in the moral realm : women are more easily classified as victims and men as perpetrators even when the transgressions are identical.
Not only did the participants more easily detect the victimization and suffering of women, but they also felt closer to female victims compared to male victims and perceived their suffering as less deserved and less fair .
Moral bias at the sexual level
Studies have suggested that people felt less compelled to forgive and more motivated to punish male perpetrators than female perpetrators, including in the form of investigations and firings .
These biases can lead evaluators to systematically deviate from impartiality, without fulfilling the ideal that all people should be treated equally , or that a just society is one that develops symmetrical justice regardless of sex.
Specifically, study 1 participants assumed that a harmed target was female, but especially when labeled ‘victim’.
In total, there were six studies in four different countries and this bias was revealed in all of them . For example, study 3 participants assumed that an employee reporting harassment was more of a victim than a male employee making identical claims.
Female victims were also expected to experience more pain from an ambiguous joke, and male perpetrators were prescribed harsher punishments in Study 4.
Managers were perceived as more immoral when firing women (versus men) in study 5.
The possibility of gender discrimination intensified the cognitive bond between women and the victim in the study 6.