Prior research has found that referees are harsher toward sporting offenses in regional-level matches between women than in regional-level matches between men. We tested whether this bias also occurs at a higher, national level of competition, despite the greater pressures for objectivity and fairness at this level. Referees' decisions were examined in 15 national-level handball matches between women and 15 national-level handball matches between men after transgressions that varied in severity. The results suggest that referees made harsher decisions in female than in male matches. Although more research is needed, this study supported the hypothesis that referees may use the gender of players as a powerful judgmental heuristic for deciding how to respond to aggression.
Souchon, N., Geneviéve, C., Rascle, O., Traclet, A., Dosseville, F., & Maio, G. R. (2009). Referees' decision making about transgressions: The influence of player gender at the highest national level. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 33(4), 445-452. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1471-6402.2009.01522.x