Demographic progress

Kevin Lewis

June 13, 2019

The promise and peril of sexual harassment programs
Frank Dobbin & Alexandra Kalev
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming


Two decades ago, the Supreme Court vetted the workplace harassment programs popular at the time: sexual harassment grievance procedures and training. However, harassment at work remains common. Do these programs reduce harassment? Program effects have been difficult to measure, but, because women frequently quit their jobs after being harassed, programs that reduce harassment should help firms retain current and aspiring women managers. Thus, effective programs should be followed by increases in women managers. We analyze data from 805 companies over 32 y to explore how new sexual harassment programs affect the representation of white, black, Hispanic, and Asian-American women in management. We find support for several propositions. First, sexual harassment grievance procedures, shown in surveys to incite retaliation without satisfying complainants, are followed by decreases in women managers. Second, training for managers, which encourages managers to look for signs of trouble and intervene, is followed by increases in women managers. Third, employee training, which proscribes specific behaviors and signals that male trainees are potential perpetrators, is followed by decreases in women managers. Two propositions specify how management composition moderates program effects. One, because women are more likely to believe harassment complaints and less likely to respond negatively to training, in firms with more women managers, programs work better. Two, in firms with more women managers, harassment programs may activate group threat and backlash against some groups of women. Positive and negative program effects are found in different sorts of workplaces.

Of Promise and Penalties: How Student Racial-Cultural Markers Shape Teacher Perceptions
Yasmiyn Irizarry & Emma Cohen
Race and Social Problems, June 2019, Pages 93–111


Scholars document considerable disparities in teacher perceptions of students, yet absent from this literature is an examination of how race, ethnicity, and immigration status intersect to influence teacher ratings. This study extends previous research by examining variation in teachers’ ratings of academic ability across four conventional racial/ethnic groups as well as thirteen racialized subgroups. Using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study—Kindergarten Class of 1998–1999, we find that black first-graders receive lower ratings in language and literacy, a pattern that holds for both black Americans and black immigrants. In contrast, Asian first-graders receive higher ratings in math; however, this is primarily driven by teachers’ much higher ratings of East Asian and Southeast Asian immigrants. These subgroup differences remain even after controlling for a host of background and contextual factors, as well as students’ tested ability and academic growth in math and reading. Teacher perceptions of student academic behavior explain lower language and literacy ratings for black Americans and higher math ratings for Southeast Asian immigrants that are present net background and performance, but higher math ratings for East Asian immigrants remain. We conclude by discussing implications of our approach and findings.

Gender Differences in Pay Levels: An Examination of the Compensation of University Presidents
Dane Blevins et al.
Organization Science, May-June 2019, Pages 600–616


Our paper studies how gender and organizational status affect a university president’s compensation. Similar to previous findings, we hypothesize that women will receive less pay than men. However, we go beyond a dyadic view of individual differences to examine gender’s impact on compensation, and we explicate the importance of institutional forces in understanding the gender pay gap. In doing so, we rely on organizational status and hypothesize that the gender pay gap will be less pronounced as a university’s status rises. Although we find that the gender pay gap persists within the university president context, we also find that as a university’s status rises, the pay gap declines. Moreover, our findings show that the gender pay gap disappears at higher-status universities. Hence, accounting for where the glass ceiling is broken is an important consideration in understanding the gender pay gap. In sum, by integrating a broader institutional perspective to explain gender differences in pay levels, our paper demonstrates the importance of contextualizing gender to better understand its effects on compensation.

Bias in Radiology Resident Selection: Do We Discriminate Against the Obese and Unattractive?
Charles Maxfield et al.
Academic Medicine, forthcoming

Method: A deception study simulating the resident selection process to examine the impact of attractiveness and obesity on resident selection. Seventy-four core faculty from five academic radiology departments reviewed mock residency applications in September and October 2017. Applications included demographic information and photograph, representing a prespecified distribution of facial attractiveness and obesity, combined with randomized academic and supporting variables. Reviewers independently scored applications for interview desirability. Reviewer scores and application variables were compared using linear mixed fixed and random effects models.

Results: Reviewers evaluated 5,447 applications (mean: 74 applications per reviewer). United States Medical Licensing Examination Step 1 scores were the strongest predictor of reviewer rating (B = 0.35 [standard error (SE) = 0.029]). Applicant facial attractiveness strongly predicted rating (attractive versus unattractive, B = 0.30 [SE = 0.056]; neutral versus unattractive, B = 0.13 [SE = 0.028]). Less influential but still significant predictors included race/ethnicity (B = 0.25 [SE = 0.059]), preclinical class rank (B = 0.25 [SE = 0.040]), clinical clerkship grades (B = 0.23 [SE = 0.034]), Alpha Omega Alpha membership (B = 0.21 [SE = 0.032]), and obesity (versus not obese) (B = -0.14 [SE = 0.024]).

Trends in U.S. Gender Attitudes, 1977 to 2018: Gender and Educational Disparities
Kelsey Meagher & Xiaoling Shu
Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World, May 2019


These figures display gender- and education-related gaps in U.S. gender attitudes from 1977 to 2018. The authors use data from the General Social Survey (N = 57,224) to estimate the historical trajectory of U.S. attitudes about women in politics, familial roles, and working motherhood. Of all attitudes analyzed, Americans hold the most liberal attitudes toward women in politics, with no gender gap and little educational difference on this issue. Attitudes toward familial roles have the largest educational gap but a small gender difference. The gender gap in attitudes toward working motherhood has persisted over time, with women holding more egalitarian attitudes than men. The educational disparity on this issue disappeared during the mid-1990s “stalled gender revolution” but has widened since. Although the “stall” occurred among all gender and educational groups on all four gender attitude measures, the decline was starkest among the college educated regarding working motherhood.

How Gender and Race Stereotypes Impact the Advancement of Scholars in STEM: Professors’ Biased Evaluations of Physics and Biology Post-Doctoral Candidates
Asia Eaton et al.
Sex Roles, forthcoming


The current study examines how intersecting stereotypes about gender and race influence faculty perceptions of post-doctoral candidates in STEM fields in the United States. Using a fully-crossed, between-subjects experimental design, biology and physics professors (n = 251) from eight large, public, U.S. research universities were asked to read one of eight identical curriculum vitae (CVs) depicting a hypothetical doctoral graduate applying for a post-doctoral position in their field, and rate them for competence, hireability, and likeability. The candidate’s name on the CV was used to manipulate race (Asian, Black, Latinx, and White) and gender (female or male), with all other aspects of the CV held constant across conditions. Faculty in physics exhibited a gender bias favoring the male candidates as more competent and more hirable than the otherwise identical female candidates. Further, physics faculty rated Asian and White candidates as more competent and hirable than Black and Latinx candidates, while those in biology rated Asian candidates as more competent and hirable than Black candidates, and as more hireable than Latinx candidates. An interaction between candidate gender and race emerged for those in physics, whereby Black women and Latinx women and men candidates were rated the lowest in hireability compared to all others. Women were rated more likeable than men candidates across departments. Our results highlight how understanding the underrepresentation of women and racial minorities in STEM requires examining both racial and gender biases as well as how they intersect.

Battle for the thermostat: Gender and the effect of temperature on cognitive performance
Tom Chang & Agne Kajackaite
PLoS ONE, May 2019


This paper studies differences in the effect of temperature on cognitive performance by gender in a large controlled lab experiment (N = 543). We study performance in math, verbal and cognitive reflection tasks and find that the effects of temperature vary significantly across men and women. At higher temperatures, women perform better on a math and verbal task while the reverse effect is observed for men. The increase in female performance in response to higher temperature is significantly larger and more precisely estimated than the corresponding decrease in male performance. In contrast to math and verbal tasks, temperature has no impact on a measure of cognitive reflection for either gender. Our findings suggest that gender mixed workplaces may be able to increase productivity by setting the thermostat higher than current standards.

Structural Sexism and Health in the United States: A New Perspective on Health Inequality and the Gender System
Patricia Homan
American Sociological Review, June 2019, Pages 486-516


In this article, I build a new line of health inequality research that parallels the emerging structural racism literature. I develop theory and measurement for the concept of structural sexism and examine its relationship to health outcomes. Consistent with contemporary theories of gender as a multilevel social system, I conceptualize and measure structural sexism as systematic gender inequality at the macro level (U.S. state), meso level (marital dyad), and micro level (individual). I use U.S. state-level administrative data linked to geocoded data from the NLSY79, as well as measures of inter-spousal inequality and individual views on women’s roles as predictors of physical health outcomes in random-effects models for men and women. Results show that among women, exposure to more sexism at the macro and meso levels is associated with more chronic conditions, worse self-rated health, and worse physical functioning. Among men, macro-level structural sexism is also associated with worse health. However, greater meso-level structural sexism is associated with better health among men. At the micro level, internalized sexism is not related to physical health among either women or men. I close by outlining how future research on gender inequality and health can be furthered using a structural sexism perspective.

Gender, Race, and Grant Reviews: Translating and Responding to Research Feedback
Monica Biernat et al.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming


Grant-writing and grant-getting are key to success in many academic disciplines, but research points to gender gaps in both, especially as careers progress. Using a sample of National Institutes of Health (NIH) K-Awardees — Principal Investigators of Mentored Career Development Awards — we examined gender and race effects in response to imagined negative grant reviews that emphasized either promise or inadequacy. Women translated both forms of feedback into worse NIH priority scores than did men and showed reduced motivation to reapply for funding following the review highlighting inadequacy. Translation of feedback mediated the effects of gender on motivation, changing one’s research focus, and advice-seeking. Race effects were less consistent, and race did not moderate effects of gender. We suggest that gender bias in grant reviews (i.e., greater likelihood of highlighting inadequacy in reviews of women’s grants), along with gender differences in responsiveness to feedback, may contribute to women’s underrepresentation in academic medicine.

Standing Out and Sorting In: Exploring the Role of Racial Composition in Racial Disparities in Special Education
Rachel Elizabeth Fish
American Educational Research Journal, forthcoming


Schools differentially sort students into special education by race, though researchers debate the extent to which this is caused by racist school practices versus variation in student need due to other racial inequalities. I test the interaction between school-level racial composition and student-level race as a predictor of special education receipt. I find that as the proportion of White students increases, the risk of lower-status disabilities, such as intellectual disability, increases for Black, Latinx, and Native American students. As the proportion of White students decreases, White students’ risk of higher-status disabilities, such as speech/language impairment, increases relative to students of color. Thus, in the context of racial distinctiveness, student race becomes salient to sorting into special education.

Mitigating gender bias in student evaluations of teaching
David Peterson et al.
PLoS ONE, May 2019


Student evaluations of teaching are widely believed to contain gender bias. In this study, we conduct a randomized experiment with the student evaluations of teaching in four classes with large enrollments, two taught by male instructors and two taught by female instructors. In each of the courses, students were randomly assigned to either receive the standard evaluation instrument or the same instrument with language intended to reduce gender bias. Students in the anti-bias language condition had significantly higher rankings of female instructors than students in the standard treatment. There were no differences between treatment groups for male instructors. These results indicate that a relatively simple intervention in language can potentially mitigate gender bias in student evaluation of teaching.

Beauty Premiums Among Academics
Jobu Babin et al.
University of Memphis Working Paper, April 2019


This paper examines the effects of instructors’ attractiveness on student evaluations of their teaching. We build on previous studies by holding both observed and unobserved characteristics of the instructor and classes constant, capitalizing on a unique panel dataset of instructor evaluations. Our identification strategy exploits the fact that the same faculty, in addition to traditional teaching in the classroom, often also teach in the online environment, where attractiveness is either unknown or less salient. We utilize multiple attractiveness measures, including facial symmetry software, subjective evaluations, and a novel, proxy methodology that resembles a “Keynesian Beauty Contest.” We identify a substantial beauty premium in face-to-face classes for women but not for men. While gender on its own does not impact teaching evaluation scores, female instructors rated as more attractive receive higher instructional ratings. This result holds across several beauty measures, given a multitude of controls and while controlling for unobserved instructor characteristics and skills. Notably, the positive relationship between beauty and teaching effectiveness is not found in the online environment, suggesting the observed premium may be due to taste-based discrimination.

Do people care if men don't care about caring? The asymmetry in support for changing gender roles
Katharina Block et al.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, July 2019, Pages 112-131


Not all instances of gender inequality are equally concerning. An emphasis on women's underrepresentation in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math roles (STEM) has not been matched by a similar concern about men's underrepresentation in Healthcare, Early Education, and Domestic roles (HEED). The current research investigates whether and why people perceive gender imbalances in male-dominated careers (STEM and leadership) as more problematic than gender imbalances in female-dominated, caregiving careers (HEED). Results from four studies (total N = 754) document a tendency to more strongly support the inclusion of women in male-dominated careers, compared to the inclusion of men in female-dominated careers. This asymmetry in support for social action towards change is predicted by beliefs about what the ideal gender representation should be and the perceived causes of gender imbalances in each career type. Notably, gender representation in careers (and not salary) is the key factor underlying discrepant support for change (Study 4).

Grading Teachers: Race and Gender Differences in Low Evaluation Ratings and Teacher Employment Outcomes
Steven Drake, Amy Auletto & Joshua Cowen
American Educational Research Journal, forthcoming


In July 2011, the State of Michigan adopted a broad set of teacher labor market reforms, including a high-stakes evaluation system designed in part to remove low-performing teachers. We examine the characteristics of teachers rated as “minimally effective” and “ineffective,” as well as their schools, and the relationship between low effectiveness ratings and later employment outcomes. Results suggest teachers of color across traditional and charter schools are more likely to receive low effectiveness ratings than their within-school peers. These low rating risks are higher for teachers of color working in comparatively White-faculty contexts. Male and novice teachers are also rated low more frequently, and important differences appear to exist in the usage of low ratings by traditional public and charter schools.

Unfair Rules for Unequal Pay: Wage Discrimination and Procedural Justice
Scott Bokemper, Peter Descioli & Reuben Kline
Journal of Experimental Political Science, forthcoming


Do people judge some forms of wage discrimination to be more unfair than others? We report an experiment in an online labor market in which participants were paid based on discriminatory rules. We test hypotheses about fairness based on procedural justice, divisiveness, and affective polarization between partisans. Workers transcribed text and then learned that they earned more or less money than other workers for doing the same job. We manipulated whether the unequal pay was based on their political party, eye color, or an arbitrary choice between two doors. Consistent with the divisiveness hypothesis, participants judged discriminatory pay to be less fair when it was based on a stable characteristic, political party, or eye color, compared to a transient choice (between doors). We find mixed evidence about how affective polarization exacerbates the unfairness of partisan discrimination. We discuss implications for the procedural justice of wage discrimination.

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