Judging Opportunity

Kevin Lewis

October 15, 2020

Increasing Access to Selective High Schools through Place-Based Affirmative Action: Unintended Consequences
Lisa Barrow, Lauren Sartain & Marisa de la Torre
American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, October 2020, Pages 135-163


We investigate whether elite Chicago public high schools differentially benefit high-achieving students from more and less affluent neighborhoods. Chicago's place-based affirmative action policy allocates seats based on achievement and neighborhood socioeconomic status (SES). Using regression discontinuity design (RDD), we find that these schools do not raise test scores overall, but students are generally more positive about their high school experiences. For students from low-SES neighborhoods, we estimate negative effects on grades and the probability of attending a selective college. We present suggestive evidence that these findings for students from low-SES neighborhoods are driven by the negative effect of relative achievement ranking.

The declining earnings gap between young women and men in the United States, 1979-2018
John Iceland & Ilana Redstone
Social Science Research, forthcoming


We examine the dynamics of the gender earnings gap over the 1979 to 2018 period among full-time workers aged 25-29, focusing on the role of marital status and the presence of children. Using data from multiple years of the Current Population Survey, we find that the earnings gap declined among all groups of men and women, and by 2018 there was earnings parity among the those who were not married and without children. The share of people in this group also grew over the period, and comprised a majority of both men and women by 2018. We also find that while marriage was associated with lower earnings among women in 1979, by 2018 it was associated with higher earnings, suggesting greater positive selection of women with high earnings potential into marriage. The positive association between marriage and earnings among men remained stable. While we found a persistent earnings penalty for having children among women over the period, we found an emerging dampening effect of having children over time among men, which suggests that greater participation in childcare among men has led to lower earnings than in the past (i.e., a causal connection) and/or an emerging selection effect of young men more interested in childrearing over time, perhaps reflecting a cultural shift.

Under-Employment of Female Surgeons?
Ya-Wen Chen et al.
Annals of Surgery, forthcoming

Methods: Operative case records from a large academic medical center from 1997 to 2018 were evaluated. The primary end point was wRVU for each case with a secondary end point of total wRVU per month for each surgeon. Multivariate linear analysis was performed, adjusting for surgeon race, calendar year, seniority, and clinical subspecialty.

Results: A total of 551,047 records were analyzed, from 131 surgeons and 13,666 surgeon-months. Among them, 104,424 (19.0%) of cases were performed by female surgeons, who make up 20.6% (n = 27) of the surgeon population, and 2,879 (21.1%) of the surgeon months. On adjusted analysis, male surgeons earned an additional 1.65 wRVU per case, compared to female surgeons (95% CI + 1.57 to + 1.74). Subset analyses found that gender disparity increased with surgeon seniority, and did not improve over the 20-year study period.

Conclusion: Female surgeons perform less complex cases than their male peers, even after accounting for subspecialty and seniority. These gender differences are not due to availability from competing professional or familial obligations. Future work should focus on determining the cause and mitigating this under-employment of female surgeons.

Gender Bias in Collaborative Medical Decision Making: Emergent Evidence
Erik Helzer et al.
Academic Medicine, October 2020, Pages 1524-1528


This initial, exploratory study on gender bias in collaborative medical decision making examined the degree to which physicians’ reliance on a team member’s patient care advice differs as a function of the gender of the advice giver. In 2018, 283 anesthesiologists read a brief, online clinical vignette and were randomly assigned to receive treatment advice from 1 of 8 possible sources (physician or nurse, man or woman, experienced or inexperienced). They then indicated their treatment decision, as well as the degree to which they relied upon the advice given. The results revealed 2 patterns consistent with gender bias in participants’ advice taking. First, when treatment advice was delivered by an inexperienced physician, participants reported replying significantly more on the advice of a man versus a woman, F(1,61) = 4.24, P = .04. Second, participants’ reliance on the advice of the woman physician was a function of her experience, F(1,62) = 6.96, P = .01, whereas reliance on the advice of the man physician was not, F(1,60) = 0.21, P = .65.

Flexible Wages, Bargaining, and the Gender Gap
Barbara Biasi & Heather Sarsons
NBER Working Paper, October 2020


Does flexible pay increase the gender wage gap? To answer this question we analyze the wages of public-school teachers in Wisconsin, where a 2011 reform allowed school districts to set teachers' pay more flexibly and engage in individual negotiations. Using quasi-exogenous variation in the timing of the introduction of flexible pay driven by the expiration of pre-existing collective-bargaining agreements, we show that flexible pay increased the gender pay gap among teachers with the same credentials. This gap is larger for younger teachers and absent for teachers working under a female principal or superintendent. Survey evidence suggests that the gap is partly driven by women not engaging in negotiations over pay, especially when the counterpart is a man. This gap is not driven by gender differences in job mobility, ability, or a higher demand for male teachers. We conclude that environmental factors are an important determinant of the gender wage gap in contexts where workers are required to negotiate.

Beyond adherence to justice rules: How and when manager gender contributes to diminished legitimacy in the aftermath of unfair situations
Christianne Varty, Laurie Barclay & Daniel Brady
Journal of Organizational Behavior, forthcoming


Unfair situations are a reality of organizational life. Although managers are typically advised to enact justice (i.e., adhere to justice rules) to mitigate negative employee reactions to unfair situations, the subjective nature of fairness suggests that employees may still react negatively to managers, regardless of managers' adherence to justice rules. Integrating fairness theory with social role theory, we propose that prescriptive gender stereotypes can differentially influence employees' reactions toward female (versus male) managers in the aftermath of unfair situations. Across two studies, female (versus male) managers were especially likely to experience diminished legitimacy in the aftermath of unfair situations, regardless of their adherence to justice rules. Moreover, these effects were especially likely to emerge for situations that reflected isolated versus ongoing issues. In turn, diminished legitimacy prompted negative employee behaviors that can detract from managerial effectiveness (e.g., withdrawal of manager‐directed citizenship behaviors, enhanced negative gossip about the manager, and increased resistance behaviors). Theoretical and practical contributions include recognizing the importance of broadening focus beyond adherence to justice rules to understand employees' reactions and managers' experiences, acknowledging the impact of gender in the context of fairness, and highlighting that upward‐directed gender bias may contribute to the (un)intentional undermining of female managers.

Sex differences in exclusion and aggression on single-sex sports teams
Robert Deaner et al.
Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, forthcoming


Sex differences in the use of competitive tactics have been well documented and may reflect evolved predispositions. Recent research, however, suggests these differences may be eliminated in single-sex environments. We addressed this possibility by surveying men and women about their recent experiences as members of college (n = 376) and high school (n = 485) single-sex sports teams. We focused on participants’ recollections of being targets of exclusion or overt aggression by their teammates. In both samples, women were significantly more likely than men to recall being excluded (college Odds Ratio [OR] = 2.88; high school OR = 1.67) and receiving overt verbal aggression (ORs = 9.15, 3.30). By contrast, women were significantly less likely than men to recall receiving overt physical aggression (ORs = 0.18, 0.14). Furthermore, as predicted by the male warrior hypothesis, compared with men, women were more likely to be excluded by (ORs = 4.2, 3.36) or to receive aggression from (ORs = 13.69, 3.61) teammates in a competitive context (i.e., game) compared with other contexts. This pattern was significant for aggression in both samples and for exclusion in the high school sample. Collectively, these results indicate that differences in the behavior of men and women persist in single-sex settings where groups must cooperate against opponents.

The impacts of a brief middle-school self-affirmation intervention help propel African American and Latino students through high school
Geoffrey Borman, Yeseul Choi & Garret Hall
Journal of Educational Psychology, forthcoming


Stereotype threat has been shown to have deleterious impacts on the short- and long-term academic performance and psychological well-being of racial and ethnic minority students. Psychological variables related to this identity threat represent significant sources of achievement and attainment gaps relative to nonstereotyped Asian and white students who do not tend to be subject to performance declines related to such threats. In the current study, we investigate long-term effects of a brief self-affirmation intervention implemented at-scale to mitigate stereotype threat for seventh-grade African American and Latino students. Relative to their control-group counterparts, our findings indicate that a self-affirming intervention to buffer racial and ethnic minority students from identity threats reduced the growing achievement gap by 50% per year between seventh and 12th grade (N = 802). As a result, the achievement gap between white/Asian and African American/Latino students decreased by 42% at the end of 12th grade. Finally, the intervention increased on-time graduation rates for treated minority students by 10 percentage points (N = 952). Implications for theory, policy, and future research are discussed.

Cumulative disadvantage? The role of race compared to ethnicity, religion, and non-white phenotype in explaining hiring discrimination in the U.S. labour market
Ruta Yemane
Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, forthcoming


Numerous correspondence studies have found strong and persistent evidence for racial discrimination in the U.S. labour market. However, since in the majority of studies race was the only variable that was manipulated, it is difficult to disentangle whether it is the ethnic background, the phenotype, the religious affiliation, or a combination of all that drives hiring discrimination. To answer this question, I draw on the theoretical framework of intersectionality and look at the role of ethnicity, as well as religion and non-white phenotype, and how they mediate discrimination outcomes using data from a correspondence study that was conducted across 49 states in the U.S. (N=2,107). The results show that next to racial preferences, employers also have ethnic preferences that influence their hiring decisions. In addition, I find significant evidence for an anti-Muslim bias which is stronger for phenotypical whites than for phenotypical non-whites. Although the overall penalty for applicants who are ascribed non-whites and who additionally have a Muslim affiliation is higher in magnitude, the penalty is not statistically different from the penalty of either being non-white or having a Muslim religious affiliation only. This result is not in line with intersectional theory and suggests that for some employers, one signal of otherness (either non-whiteness or Muslim religious affiliation) is enough to elicit strong bias.

Sexism, Social Outcomes, and the Gender Wage Gap
Ann Owen & Andrew Wei
Federal Reserve Working Paper, August 2020


Using Google Trends data to identify hostile sexism across media markets in the U.S., we find that sexism explains about 8 cents (or 41 percent) of the residual gender wage gap, the wage gap after controlling for education, occupation, industry, and age. We find evidence for both a direct effect of sexism that would be consistent with explicit labor market discrimination and an indirect effect that works through generating social outcomes that reduce hours worked which itself directly affects hourly wages. Consistent with economic theories of discrimination, the direct impact of sexism is greater for women who are less educated, work in less competitive industries, and work in industries with a lower share of female workers.

The role of STEM professors’ mindset beliefs on students’ anticipated psychological experiences and course interest
Jennifer LaCosse et al.
Journal of Educational Psychology, forthcoming


Two decades of research consistently demonstrates that students’ beliefs about the malleability of intelligence (also known as “mindsets”) influence their motivation and academic outcomes. The current work provides a novel extension to this literature by examining how STEM professors’ mindset beliefs can influence students’ - and particularly female students’ - anticipated psychological experiences and interest in those professors’ courses. In 3 experiments, college students evaluated STEM courses taught by professors who espoused either fixed or growth mindset beliefs. Students’ anticipated psychological experiences (i.e., fair treatment concerns, sense of belonging, evaluation concerns), anticipated course performance, and ultimately, course interest were assessed. Results revealed that, regardless of gender, students anticipated more negative psychological experiences, lower performance, and lower course interest when courses were taught by STEM professors who endorsed more fixed (vs. growth) mindset beliefs. However, consistent with an identity threat framework, the effects of STEM professors’ mindset beliefs (in all studies and across all outcomes) were much larger among female students. Results suggest that professors’ perceived mindset beliefs may deter students from taking the STEM courses students need in order to major in STEM.

The Gender Gap: Who Is (and Is Not) Included on Graduate-Level Syllabi in Social/Personality Psychology
Linda Skitka et al.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming


We contacted a random sample of social/personality psychologists in the United States and asked for copies of their graduate syllabi. We coded more than 3,400 papers referenced on these syllabi for gender of authors as well as other characteristics. Less than 30% of the papers referenced on these syllabi were written by female first authors, with no evidence of a trend toward greater inclusion of papers published by female first authors since the 1980s. The difference in inclusion rates of female first-authored papers could not be explained by a preference for including classic over contemporary papers in syllabi (there was evidence of a recency bias instead) or the relative availability of female first-authored papers in the published literature. Implications are discussed.


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