'Height is something you think would be fixed, but how tall you say you are is malleable, at least for men,' she said.
Though the study focused exclusively on men, Cheryan noted that women also feel pressure to live up to gender ideals of femininity, such as being people-focused and nurturing.
The findings, researchers say, underscore the pressure men feel to live up to gender stereotypes and the ways in which they might reinstate a threatened masculinity.
'We know that being seen as masculine is very important for a lot of men,' said lead author Sapna Cheryan, a UW associate professor of psychology.
Researchers marked their scores on sheets that showed bogus bell curves representing male and female results, with the female curve clearly lower than the male one.
Participants were scored either in the middle of the female or the male curve, suggesting that their grip was either weak or average.
Rip Van Winkle is descended from gallant soldiers but is a peaceful man himself, known for being a kind and gentle neighbor.
His single flaw is an utter inability to do any work that could turn a profit.
If women believe they are falling short of those expectations, Cheryan said, they might make choices with potentially negative consequences to demonstrate that they fit gender norms -- for example, avoiding classes in traditionally male fields such as science and technology.
Cheryan got the idea for the experiments from a men's fitness magazine she was reading while working out at the gym several years ago.