"We have all grown up with generalizations, or "stereotypes", about males and females, but we are often told that there is something "bad" about stereotypes: they are said to be inaccurate, to constitute rigid all-or-none beliefs, and to cause people to ignore individuating Information. In fact, however, existing data undermine all three of those assertions. Most studies of stereotype accuracy have shown them to be accurate generalizations; they tend to be probabilistic, rather than categorial beliefs such as "all Xs are Y"; and people tend to rely on stereotypes when they lack individuating information but attend to individuating information when it is present. Indeed, stereotypes serve the essential function of allowing us to generalize from patterns of information."
Kingsley R Browne; 2002
Biology at Work