His or Her

Kevin Lewis

January 21, 2021

Statistical Discrimination and the Rationalization of Stereotypes
András Tilcsik
American Sociological Review, forthcoming


The theory of statistical discrimination is a dominant social scientific framework for understanding discrimination in labor markets. To date, the literature has treated this theory as a model that merely explains employer behavior. This article contends that the idea of statistical discrimination, rather than simply providing an explanation, can lead people to view social stereotyping as useful and acceptable and thus help rationalize and justify discriminatory decisions. A preregistered survey experiment with more than 2,000 participants who had managerial experience shows that exposure to statistical discrimination theory strengthened people’s belief in the accuracy of stereotypes, their acceptance of stereotyping, and the extent to which they engaged in gender discrimination in a hiring simulation. Reading a critical commentary on the theory mitigated these effects. These findings imply that theories of discrimination, and the language associated with them, can rationalize -- or challenge the rationality of -- stereotypes and discrimination and, as a result, shape the attitudes and actions of decision-makers in labor markets.

Do Alpha Males Deliver Alpha? Facial Width-to-Height Ratio and Hedge Funds
Yan Lu & Melvyn Teo
Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, forthcoming


An abundance of evidence relates masculine traits in males to facial width-to-height ratio (fWHR). We show that hedge funds operated by high-fWHR managers underperform those operated by low-fWHR managers, bear greater downside risk, are more susceptible to fire sales, and fail more often. High-fWHR managers compensate for their underperformance by marketing their funds more aggressively, thereby garnering higher flows and fee revenues. By exploiting major personal events that shape testosterone, namely marriage and fatherhood, we trace the biological mechanism underlying the relation between fWHR and investment performance to circulating testosterone. Our findings are robust and extend to equity mutual funds.

Women in Politics: The Effect on Board Diversity
Simi Kedia & Ankur Pareek
Rutgers Working Paper, December 2020


In this paper we examine if gender issues highlighted in visible political races change gender biased social norms and impact subsequent women representation on corporate boards. Viable women candidates in US Senate, House and Gubernatorial elections significantly impact women board representation. Firms in districts that experience an increase in viable female candidates are associated with a significant increase in the growth of women directors that is increasing in the visibility of the female candidate. The gains in women corporate leadership are broader and extend to more board committees, a higher likelihood of being a top five executive and increase in relative compensation. Analysis around 2016 presidential election between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, an event that generated strong gender undertones and resulted in a surprise win substantiates the results. The surprise win for Donald Trump is associated with a significant subsequent drop in the growth of women directors on boards of firms headquartered in counties where Trump won. The results highlight that changes in the attitudes towards women leadership arising from women’s success in the political sphere are important in bringing about change in women corporate leadership.

Gender Dynamics in Crowdfunding (Kickstarter): Evidence on Entrepreneurs, Backers, and Taste-Based Discrimination
Hadar Gafni et al.
Review of Finance, forthcoming


This study focuses on the launch phase of the leading reward-based crowdfunding market – Kickstarter. It documents the behaviour of male and female entrepreneurs in raising early-stage capital. We find that women share as entrepreneurs in the platform (34.7%) does not equal to their share in the overall population, and they are concentrated in stereotyped sectors, both as entrepreneurs and as backers. We also find that women do not set lower funding goals than men, they enjoy higher rates of success than men, even after controlling for project categories and funding goals, and that backers of both genders have a tendency to fund entrepreneurs of their own gender. Our survey of Kickstarter backers finds evidence of taste-based discrimination by male backers.

Children Show a Gender Gap in Negotiation
Sophie Arnold & Katherine McAuliffe
Psychological Science, forthcoming


In the United States, there is an unfortunate yet pervasive gender gap in wages: Women tend to make less than men for doing the same work. One prominent account for why this wage gap exists is that women and men negotiate differently. However, we currently do not know whether differences in negotiation are a product of extensive experience or are deeply rooted in development. Here, we brought data from children to bear on this important question. We gave 240 children between the ages of 4 and 9 years old a chance to negotiate for a bonus with a female or a male evaluator. Boys asked for the same bonus from a male and a female evaluator. Older girls, in contrast, asked for a smaller bonus from a male than a female evaluator. Our findings suggest that a gender gap in negotiation emerges surprisingly early in development, highlighting childhood as a key period for interventions.

The impact of fleeting exposure to female exemplars of success in STEM
Megan McCarty, Janice Kelly & Kipling Williams
Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, forthcoming


Two studies tested the impact of subtle cues that associate masculinity with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) success on women’s STEM experiences. Study 1 was a field study conducted in a university campus engineering building where photos of graduating classes were displayed. In Study 2, STEM majors viewed a mock website that depicted either exclusively male or mixed-gender STEM students. Across both studies, women reported greater fundamental need threat — a composite of threats to belonging, self-esteem, control, and meaningful existence — after viewing photos of exclusively male STEM students than did men. This gender effect disappeared when photos included female STEM students. Direct effects of gender and photo condition on career intentions were not observed, but indirect effects were obtained through need threat. Thus, because fleeting exposure to subtle background images associating STEM success with masculinity can negatively impact women’s fundamental needs, cues in academic environments should be carefully considered.

In the Money: Gender and Jockey Success on the Thoroughbred Racetrack
Alexander Binder, Paul Grimes & Russell Winterbotham
Journal of Sports Economics, forthcoming


This paper examines the relative performance and access to mounts of female jockeys in American horseracing, the only major professional sport where female and male athletes directly compete on a regular basis. We modeled the determinants of the probability for a jockey finishing a race “in-the-money” — placing first, second, or third, and the determinants for receiving mounts. Among other findings, the results indicated that the probability for female jockeys finishing a race in the money was not significantly different from male jockeys, ceteris paribus, yet female jockeys continue to receive fewer mounts after controlling for other relevant, observable factors.

The Agency Myth: Persistence in Individual Explanations for Gender Inequality
Emily Carian & Amy Johnson
Social Problems, forthcoming


We leverage a unique longitudinal dataset — 98 interviews with 30 college students — to investigate young people’s explanations for gender inequality over time and the implications of those explanations. Through five waves and four years of interviews, we show that young people struggled to internalize structural explanations, instead favoring explanations that conceptualized gender as an individual attribute. Individual perspectives were so intransigent because of respondents’ adherence to what we call the agency myth, the latent cultural idea that individuals, particularly women, have the power to overcome gender inequality through strategic behaviors. The agency myth offered young people a sense of self-efficacy, but prevented their imagining broader solutions for social change. Those who were able to think structurally did so only after rejecting the agency myth. This article shows how the durability of individualist perspectives contributes to persistent gender inequality by privileging individualized solutions over more effective structural ones. We discuss how individual subscription to the agency myth is structured by young people’s intersecting identities, and how the agency myth can be applied to other axes of inequality.


#MeToo: Sexual harassment and company value
Mads Borelli-Kjaer, Laurids Moehl Schack & Ulf Nielsson
Journal of Corporate Finance, forthcoming


We identify the impact of reported sexual harassment on firm value through the use of a unique hand-collected sample consisting of around 200 incidents that all include novel event- and firm-specific characteristics. The average effect of a sexual harassment scandal is significantly negative and robust, with around 1.5% abnormal decrease in market value over the event day and the following trading day. In the cross section, the effect is considerably amplified by the involvement of a CEO in the scandal, high news coverage and number of accusers, while firms' self-disclosure of misconduct mitigates the effect. The average magnitude of impact is unchanged before and after the #MeToo movement, but the frequency of scandals in the media translates to a four-fold increase in the risk of becoming embroiled in a scandal. Proxies of public sentiment rather than direct penalties and loss of productivity are found to correlate with the magnitude of impact.

Who Else Likes it? Perceived Gender of Social Endorsers Predicts Gender Equality Support
Jessica Roden, Matea Mustafaj & Muniba Saleem
Computers in Human Behavior, forthcoming

Research suggests that messaging by men can garner broader support from both men and women around gender equality issues. How might this influence operate in a social media environment which includes peripheral cues in addition to the message sender’s identity such as the number and identities of people who are engaging with the message? The present online experiment (N = 344) examines how the actual and presumed gender identity of a tweet’s social endorsers influence group norms and solidarity for gender equality among men. Results reveal that higher estimates of male endorsement lead men to have greater support for gender equality policies. These results highlight the importance of ingroup norms communicated through social endorsements in garnering men’s support for gender equality within a social media context.

Self-image Bias and Lost Talent
Marciano Siniscalchi & Pietro Veronesi
NBER Working Paper, December 2020


We propose an overlapping-generations model in which established researchers evaluate the research of new researchers. All researchers are differentially endowed with equally desirable research characteristics and belong to two groups, M or F, which have identical ex-ante productivity distributions. Evaluations are group-blind. Yet, when research is evaluated on many characteristics, evaluators' self-image bias and mild between-group heterogeneity lead the initially larger group, say M, to dominate indefinitely. M-researchers only accept the research of young scholars with characteristics close to theirs. Promoted F-researchers are thus few and "similar" to M-researchers, perpetuating the asymmetry. This talent loss is exacerbated by candidates' career concerns and institutions' focus on hiring faculty whose research will be approved by established researchers. Mentorship reduces group imbalance, but it increases the F-group talent loss. Affirmative action reduces both. Our model's predictions are consistent with existing empirical evidence on female participation in academic economics.


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