The Mark of a Woman’s Record: Gender and Academic Performance in Hiring
American Sociological Review, April 2018, Pages 331-360
Women earn better grades than men across levels of education - but to what end? This article assesses whether men and women receive equal returns to academic performance in hiring. I conducted an audit study by submitting 2,106 job applications that experimentally manipulated applicants’ GPA, gender, and college major. Although GPA matters little for men, women benefit from moderate achievement but not high achievement. As a result, high-achieving men are called back significantly more often than high-achieving women - at a rate of nearly 2-to-1. I further find that high-achieving women are most readily penalized when they major in math: high-achieving men math majors are called back three times as often as their women counterparts. A survey experiment conducted with 261 hiring decision-makers suggests that these patterns are due to employers’ gendered standards for applicants. Employers value competence and commitment among men applicants, but instead privilege women applicants who are perceived as likeable. This standard helps moderate-achieving women, who are often described as sociable and outgoing, but hurts high-achieving women, whose personalities are viewed with more skepticism. These findings suggest that achievement invokes gendered stereotypes that penalize women for having good grades, creating unequal returns to academic performance at labor market entry.
Hormone-Diversity Fit: Collective Testosterone Moderates the Effect of Diversity on Group Performance
Modupe Akinola et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming
Prior research has found inconsistent effects of diversity on group performance. The present research identifies hormonal factors as a critical moderator of the diversity-performance connection. Integrating the diversity, status, and hormone literatures, we predicted that groups collectively low in testosterone, which orients individuals less toward status competitions and more toward cooperation, would excel with greater group diversity. In contrast, groups collectively high in testosterone, which is associated with a heightened status drive, would be derailed by diversity. Analysis of 74 randomly assigned groups engaged in a group decision-making exercise provided support for these hypotheses. The findings suggest that diversity is beneficial for performance, but only if group-level testosterone is low; diversity has a negative effect on performance if group-level testosterone is high. Too much collective testosterone maximizes the pains and minimizes the gains from diversity.
Beauty, Job Tasks, and Wages: A New Conclusion about Employer Taste-Based Discrimination
Todd Stinebrickner, Ralph Stinebrickner & Paul Sullivan
NBER Working Paper, April 2018
We use novel data from the Berea Panel Study to reexamine the labor market mechanisms generating the beauty wage premium. We find that the beauty premium varies widely across jobs with different task requirements. Specifically, in jobs where existing research such as Hamermesh and Biddle (1994) has posited that attractiveness is plausibly a productivity enhancing attribute - those that require substantial amounts of interpersonal interaction - a large beauty premium exists. In contrast, in jobs where attractiveness seems unlikely to truly enhance productivity - jobs that require working with information and data - there is no beauty premium. This stark variation in the beauty premium across jobs is inconsistent with the employer-based discrimination explanation for the beauty premium, because this theory predicts that all jobs will favor attractive workers. Our approach is made possible by unique longitudinal task data, which was collected to address the concern that measurement error in variables describing the importance of interpersonal tasks would tend to bias results towards finding a primary role for employer taste-based discrimination. As such, it is perhaps not surprising that our conclusions about the importance of employer taste-based discrimination are in stark contrast to all previous research that has utilized a similar conceptual approach.
Is There Really a Beauty Premium or an Ugliness Penalty on Earnings?
Satoshi Kanazawa & Mary Still
Journal of Business and Psychology, April 2018, Pages 249-262
Purpose: Economists have widely documented the “beauty premium” and “ugliness penalty” on earnings. Explanations based on employer and client discrimination would predict a monotonic association between physical attractiveness and earnings; explanations based on occupational self-selection would explain the beauty premium as a function of workers’ occupations; and explanations based on individual differences would predict that the beauty premium would disappear once appropriate individual differences are controlled. In this paper, we empirically tested the three competing hypotheses about the “beauty premium”.
Design/Methodology/Approach: We analyzed a nationally representative and prospectively longitudinal sample from the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health (Add Health).
Findings: The results contradicted the discrimination and self-selection explanations and strongly supported the individual differences explanation. Very unattractive respondents always earned significantly more than unattractive respondents, sometimes more than average-looking or attractive respondents. Multiple regression analyses showed that there was very weak evidence for the beauty premium, and it disappeared completely once individual differences, such as health, intelligence, and Big Five personality factors, were statistically controlled.
Why Do Very Unattractive Workers Earn So Much?
Satoshi Kanazawa, Shihao Hu & Adrien Larere
Economics & Human Biology, forthcoming
Kanazawa and Still (2018) showed that very unattractive workers earned more than unattractive workers, sometimes more than average-looking or attractive workers, because they had higher levels of intelligence and education, but they did not explain why very unattractive workers had higher intelligence and education. There are both theoretical and empirical reasons to expect that some intelligent men may prefer to marry very unattractive women. The analysis of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) shows that very unattractive women were significantly more likely to be married at Age 29 than unattractive or average-looking women, and their spouses or partners earned significantly more than those of unattractive or average-looking women. If intelligent men have historically preferred to marry very unattractive women generation after generation, then, because both general intelligence and physical attractiveness are highly heritable, this can explain why very unattractive workers are more intelligent and achieve higher education, thereby earning more. It can also explain why the positive correlation between intelligence and physical attractiveness is not larger despite assortative mating of intelligent men of higher status and physically attractive women over many generations.
The Mobilization of Title IX Across U.S. Colleges and Universities, 1994-2014
Social Problems, forthcoming
Title IX has been widely recognized as a crucial step toward gender equality in America. Yet, it remains unclear how the law actually functions, particularly how it has been used in response to gender disparities in higher education. This article provides the first systematic analysis of how Title IX has been mobilized at the postsecondary level. Drawing on new data acquired through seven Freedom of Information Act requests, I analyze all resolved Title IX complaints filed with the Office for Civil Rights against four-year nonprofit colleges and universities from 1994 to 2014. I find that the mobilization of Title IX has changed both in frequency and in kind during this period. Filings started to rise after 2000 and exploded after 2009, while sexual harassment complaints nearly equaled academic and athletic filings for the first time in 2014. Private, more selective institutions as well as schools located in states with more women serving in state legislatures face a disproportionate number of complaints relative to enrollment, indicating the importance of institutional context to legal mobilization.
Gender, Brokerage and Performance: A Construal Approach
Raina Brands & Ajay Mehra
Academy of Management Journal, forthcoming
We present a new theory that seeks to explain differences in the performance of men and women friendship network brokers - individuals who bridge disconnected friends. In contrast to previous audience-centered explanations, our phenomenological theory emphasizes how brokers construe (i.e., perceive and interpret) their networks. We contend that when women perceive themselves as brokers in friendship networks, they experience threat, rooted in negative stereotypes about women brokers, which undermines their performance. Using data from a cohort of MBA students, Study 1 found that women (but not men) exhibited lower performance when they perceived themselves as brokers in small-group friendship networks. Using data from a larger group of MBA students, Study 2 replicated this finding and ruled out the possibility that underlying differences in the propensity to connect those who one bridges may explain the observed gender-based difference in broker performance. Using an experimental design, Study 3 found that elevated anxiety about task performance and negative social evaluations mediated the relationship between brokerage and performance for women but not for men. Women and men differ in how they psychologically construe brokerage in friendship networks; and this difference helps account for gender differences in the performance of network brokers.
The Education of Playful Boys: Class Clowns in the Classroom
Frontiers in Psychology, March 2018
This longitudinal study identified degrees of playfulness in 278 kindergarten-aged children, and followed them through their next three school years to determine how playfulness was viewed by the children themselves, their classmates, and teachers. Perceptions of the social competence, disruptiveness, and labeling as the class clown, were assessed from all perspectives in each of first through third grades. Hierarchical linear modeling was conducted to account for the nesting of the data (children within classrooms within schools) and for the lack of independence between the measures. A central finding confirmed extant literature in that gender differences were dominant, with playful boys regarded as distinct from their less playful counterparts, while no such discrepancies appeared for girls. Playful boys were increasingly negatively regarded as rebellious and intrusive and were labeled as the “class clown” by their teachers. These findings were in direct contrast with children's self-perceptions and those of their peers, who initially regarded more playful boys as appealing and engaging playmates. The data further revealed that the playful boys were stigmatized by their teachers, and this was communicated through verbal and non-verbal reprimands, and classmates assimilated this message and became increasingly denigrating of the playful quality in the boys. In stark contrast, girls' playfulness levels were not a consideration in ratings by teachers or peers at any grade, nor did their classroom behaviors show significant variation. These negative perceptions were likely transferred by teachers to peers and to the children themselves, whereupon they changed their positive perceptions to be increasingly negative by third grade. The results contribute to the literature by demonstrating that playfulness in boys (but not girls) is often associated with the “class clown” designation, and is viewed as an increasingly lethal characteristic in school classrooms, where compelling efforts are undertaken to discourage its expression and persistence.
Small group gender ratios impact biology class performance and peer evaluations
Lauren Sullivan, Cissy Ballen & Sehoya Cotner
PLoS ONE, April 2018
Women are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. Evidence suggests the microclimate of the classroom is an important factor influencing female course grades and interest, which encourages retention of women in STEM fields. Here, we test whether the gender composition of small (8-9 person) learning groups impacts course performance, sense of social belonging, and intragroup peer evaluations of intellectual contributions. Across two undergraduate active learning courses in introductory biology, we manipulated the classroom microclimate by varying the gender ratios of learning groups, ranging from 0% female to 100% female. We found that as the percent of women in groups increased, so did overall course performance for all students, regardless of gender. Additionally, women assigned higher peer- evaluations in groups with more women than groups with less women. Our work demonstrates an added benefit of the retention of women in STEM: increased performance for all, and positive peer perceptions for women.
The Return to Work and Women's Employment Decisions
NBER Working Paper, March 2018
It is well documented that individuals in couples tend to retire around the same time. But because women tend to marry older men, this means many married women retire at younger ages than their husbands. This fact is somewhat at odds with lifecycle theory that suggests women might otherwise retire at later ages than men because they have longer life expectancies, and often have had shorter careers on account of childrearing. As a result, the opportunity cost of retirement - in terms of foregone potential earnings and accruals to Social Security wealth - may be larger for married women than for their husbands. Using the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), I find evidence that the returns to additional work beyond mid-life are greater for married women than for married men. The potential gain in Social Security wealth alone is enough to place married women on nearly equal footing with married men in terms of Social Security wealth at age 70.
You've Come a Long Way...Maybe: How Moral Emotions Trigger Backlash Against Women Leaders
Victoria Brescoll, Tyler Okimoto & Andrea Vial
Journal of Social Issues, March 2018, Pages 144-164
Despite the progress American women have made in other arenas, they still remain underrepresented in top leadership positions in both the public and private sectors, thus contributing to their marginalized status in these domains. Although people do not expect to encounter women in positions of power, a solely cognitive process cannot fully account for the negative interpersonal characterizations and poor leadership evaluations (i.e., backlash) that female leaders disproportionately receive. Rather, recent evidence suggests that because female leaders are seen as gender norm deviants who threaten the gender status hierarchy, the backlash they encounter more likely constitutes a motivated process whereby perceivers’ negative evaluations stem from a desire to maintain the status quo (i.e., gender inequality). Here, we expand on this work by proposing that a desire to defend the gender hierarchy causes people to feel negative moral emotions when encountering powerful women who display dominance and/or agency which, in turn, causes backlash effects against such individuals. Study 1 finds that morally laden negative affect explains why evaluators penalize dominant female leaders, but not dominant male leaders. Studies 2 and 3 then manipulate this mediator via the use of use disgust primes. Given that embodied disgust amplifies moral judgment severity, we hypothesized that if moral emotions underlie gender backlash, enhanced feelings of disgust should result in harsher penalties for leaders in gender‐incongruent roles than those in gender‐congruent roles as only the former violate core gender norms that undermine the status quo. Indeed, compared to a neutral prime, disgust primes (taste in Study 2, visual in Study 3) resulted in lower leadership evaluations and liking of only the gender deviant targets. We discuss the implications of these findings for organizational interventions and female leaders’ impression management strategies.
Gender Bias, Social Impact Framing, and Evaluation of Entrepreneurial Ventures
Matthew Lee & Laura Huang
Organization Science, January-February 2018, Pages 1-16
Recent studies find that female-led ventures are penalized relative to male-led ventures as a result of role incongruity or a perceived “lack of fit” between female stereotypes and expected personal qualities of business entrepreneurs. We examine whether social impact framing that emphasizes a venture’s social-environmental welfare benefits, which research has shown to elicit stereotypically feminine attributions of warmth, diminishes these penalties. We initially investigate this proposition in a field study of evaluations of early-stage ventures and find evidence of lessened gender penalties for female-led ventures that are presented using a social impact frame. In a second study, we experimentally validate this effect and show that it is mediated by the effect of social impact framing on perceptions of the entrepreneur’s warmth. The effect of social impact frames on venture evaluations did not apply to men, was not a result of perceptions of increased competence, and was not conditional on the gender of evaluators. Taken together, our findings demonstrate that social impact framing increases attributions of warmth for all entrepreneurs but with positive consequences on business evaluation only for female-led ventures, for which increased perceptions of warmth attenuate female entrepreneurs’ gender role incongruity.
The Performance Effects of Gender Diversity on Bank Boards
Ann Owen & Judit Temesvary
Journal of Banking & Finance, May 2018, Pages 50-63
Previous literature has shown mixed results on the role of female participation on bank boards and bank performance: some papers find that more women on boards enhance financial performance, while others find negative or no effects. Applying Instrumental Variables methods to data on approximately 90 U.S. bank holding companies over the 1999-2015 period, we argue that these inconclusive results are due to the fact that there is a non-linear, U-shaped relationship between gender diversity on boards and various measures of bank performance: female participation has a positive effect once a threshold level of gender diversity is achieved. Furthermore, this positive effect is only observed in better capitalized banks. Our results suggest that continuing the voluntary expansion of gender diversity on bank boards will be value-enhancing, provided that they are well capitalized.
The Relationship Between Test Item Format and Gender Achievement Gaps on Math and ELA Tests in Fourth and Eighth Grades
Sean Reardon et al.
Educational Researcher, forthcoming
Prior research suggests that males outperform females, on average, on multiple-choice items compared to their relative performance on constructed-response items. This paper characterizes the extent to which gender achievement gaps on state accountability tests across the United States are associated with those tests’ item formats. Using roughly 8 million fourth- and eighth-grade students’ scores on state assessments, we estimate state- and district-level math and reading male-female achievement gaps. We find that the estimated gaps are strongly associated with the proportions of the test scores based on multiple-choice and constructed-response questions on state accountability tests, even when controlling for gender achievement gaps as measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) or Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessments, which have the same item format across states. We find that test item format explains approximately 25% of the variation in gender achievement gaps among states.
Sex differences in political leadership in an egalitarian society
Chris von Rueden et al.
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming
We test the contribution of sex differences in physical formidability, education, and cooperation to the acquisition of political leadership in a small-scale society. Among forager-farmers from the Bolivian Amazon, we find that men are more likely to exercise different forms of political leadership, including verbal influence during community meetings, coordination of community projects, and dispute resolution. We show that these differences in leadership are not due to gender per se but are associated with men's greater number of cooperation partners, greater access to schooling, and greater body size and physical strength. Men's advantage in cooperation partner number is tied to their participation in larger groups and to the opportunity costs of women's intrahousehold labor. We argue these results highlight the mutual influence of sexual selection and the sexual division of labor in shaping how women and men acquire leadership.