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Pervasive cultural stereotypes associate brilliance with men, not women. Given these stereotypes, messages suggesting that a career requires brilliance may undermine women’s interest. Consistent with this hypothesis, linking success to brilliance lowered women’s (but not men’s) interest in a range of educational and professional opportunities introduced via hypothetical scenarios. It also led women more than men to expect that they would feel anxious and would not belong. These gender differences were explained in part by women’s perception that they are different from the typical person in these contexts. In sum, the present research reveals that certain messages—in particular, those suggesting that brilliance is essential to success—may contribute to the gender gaps that are present in many fields.