Schemas, according to Virginia Valian (2006), are much like stereotypes. We have " schemas" on many social groups including men and women.
Schemas surrounding gender are conceptions about " what it means to be female or male" (Valian, 2006). Often, these schemas are shared by many people and designate certain attributes to males and females (Martin & Halverson, 1987; Spence & Helmreich, 1978). Some attributes we assign to males include independence and staying on task while for women, we assign traits such as nurturing and emotional (Valian, 2006).
Although schemas help us to process information efficienty, they can also lead us to make inaccurate assumptions about other people.
Virginia Valianís Gender tutorials discuss gender schemas and other issues: