Kevin Lewis

January 26, 2023

Why Did Gender Wage Convergence in the United States Stall?
Peter Blair & Benjamin Posmanick
NBER Working Paper, January 2023 


During the 1980s, the wage gap between white women and white men in the US declined by approximately 1 percentage point per year. In the decades since, the rate of gender wage convergence has stalled to less than one-third of its previous value. An outstanding puzzle in economics is "why did gender wage convergence in the US stall?" Using an event study design that exploits the timing of state and federal family-leave policies, we show that the introduction of the policies can explain 94% of the reduction in the rate of gender wage convergence that is unaccounted for after controlling for changes in observable characteristics of workers. If gender wage convergence had continued at the pre-family leave rate, wage parity between white women and white men would have been achieved as early as 2017.

Looking the Part: Stereotypicality in Appearance Among White Professionals Predicts Leadership Attainment and Perceived Leadership Suitability
Melissa Williams et al.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming 


This project explores the effects of racial phenotypic stereotypicality, or the degree to which a person’s appearance is perceived as typical of their racial group, on leadership outcomes. Building on research showing that people hold an image of the ideal leader as a White person, we propose that looking more typically White may facilitate leadership attainment. In Study 1, which used a sample of American college football coaches (N = 1,106), White (vs. Black) coaches were more likely to occupy leadership roles. Furthermore, within race, stereotypicality positively predicted occupying a leadership or head-coach role among White professionals (and negatively predicted occupying a head-coach role among Black professionals). Study 2 elucidated a possible mechanism by showing a causal effect of stereotypicality on perceived suitability for leadership among Whites. These findings advance theorizing on the White–leader link and have implications for the ability of people of color to access lucrative professional roles.

Sex segregation in strength sports: Do equal-sized muscles express the same levels of strength between sexes? 
Ryo Kataoka et al.
American Journal of Human Biology, forthcoming 

Methods: A total of 16 different data sets (n = 963) were assessed to pair-match females with males who had a muscle thickness value within 2%. We further compared the competition performances of the smallest male weight class within the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) to different weight classes in females.

Results: Overall, 76%-88% of the strength assessments were greater in males than females with pair-matched muscle thickness, regardless of contraction types (i.e., isotonic, isometric, isokinetic). Additionally, males in the lightest weight division in the IPF largely outperformed females in heavier weight divisions.

Gender Differences in Responses to Competitive Organization? A Field Experiment on Differences Between STEM and Non-STEM Fields from an Internet-of-Things Platform 
Kevin Boudreau & Nilam Kaushik
Organization Science, forthcoming 


Prior research, primarily based on laboratory experiments, suggests that females might be more averse to competition than are males; females might, instead, be more inclined toward collaboration. Were these findings to generalize to working-age men and women across the workforce, there could be profound implications for organizational design and personnel management. We report on a field experiment in which 97,678 adults from a wide range of fields of training and career stages were invited to join a product development platform. Individuals were randomly assigned to treatments framing the opportunity as either involving competitive or collaborative interactions with other participants. Among those outside of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, we find differences in the willingness of men and women to participate under competition. Thus, patterns in non-STEM fields conform to the usual claims of gender differences. However, among those in STEM fields, we find no statistical gender differences. Results hold under a series of alternative specifications, controls, and stratified analyses of 17 narrowly defined STEM subfields. The results are also consistent with sorting into fields on the basis of competitiveness, as suggested by prior research, as well as other explanations we discuss. Overall, heterogeneity in competitiveness among women and among men, particularly across fields, appears more striking here than population-wide gender differences.

Gender bias in teaching evaluations: The causal role of department gender composition
Oriana Aragón, Evava Pietri & Brian Powell
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 24 January 2023 


Women are underrepresented in academia’s higher ranks. Promotion oftentimes requires positive student-provided course evaluations. At a U.S. university, both an archival and an experimental investigation uncovered gender discrimination that affected both men and women. A department’s gender composition and the course levels being taught interacted to predict biases in evaluations. However, women were disproportionately impacted because women were more often in the gender minority. A subsequent audit of the university’s promotion guidelines suggested a disproportionate impact on women’s career trajectories. Our framework was guided by role congruity theory, which poses that workplace positions are gendered by the ratios of men and women who fill them. We hypothesized that students would expect educators in a department’s gender majority to fill more so essential positions of teaching upper-level courses and those in the minority to fill more so supportive positions of teaching lower-level courses. Consistent with role congruity theory when an educator’s gender violated expected gendered roles, we generally found discrimination in the form of lower evaluation scores. A follow-up experiment demonstrated that it was possible to change students’ expectations about which gender would teach their courses. When we assigned students randomly to picture themselves as students in a male-dominated, female-dominated, or gender-parity department, we shifted their expectations of whether men or women would teach upper- and lower-level courses. Violating students’ expectations created negative biases in teaching evaluations. This provided a causal link between department gender composition and discrimination. The importance of gender representation and ameliorating strategies are discussed.

Gender and the Disparate Payoffs of Overwork
Christin Munsch, Lindsey O'Connor & Susan Fisk
Social Psychology Quarterly, forthcoming


This article presents results from an experimental study of workers tasked with evaluating professionals with identical workplace performances who differed with respect to hours worked and gender, isolating two mechanisms through which overwork leads to workplace inequality. Evaluators allocated greater organizational rewards to overworkers and perceived overworkers more favorably compared to full-time workers who performed similarly in less time, a practice that disproportionately rewards men over equivalently performing, more efficient women. Additionally, the magnitude of the overwork premium is greater for men than for women. We then use path analyses to explore the processes by which evaluators make assumptions about worker characteristics. We find overwork leads to greater organizational rewards primarily because employees who overwork are perceived as more committed -- and, to a lesser extent, more competent -- than full-time workers, although women’s overwork does not signal commitment or competence to the same extent as men’s overwork.

Inequality among the Disadvantaged? Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Earnings among Young Men and Women without a College Education
Byeongdon Oh, Daniel Mackin Freeman & Dara Shifrer
Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, forthcoming 


Despite the rapid expansion of higher education, many young adults still enter the labor market without a college education. However, little research has focused on racial/ethnic earnings disadvantages faced by non-college-educated youth. We analyze the restricted-use data from the High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 to examine racial/ethnic earnings disparities among non-college-educated young men and women in their early 20s as of 2016, accounting for differences in premarket factors and occupation with an extensive set of controls. Results suggest striking earnings disadvantages for Black men relative to white, Latinx, and Asian men. Compared to white men, Latinx and Asian men do not earn significantly less, yet their earnings likely differ substantially by ethnic origin. While racial/ethnic earnings gaps are less prominent among women than men, women of all racial/ethnic groups have earnings disadvantages compared to white men. The results call for future studies into the heterogeneity within racial/ethnic groups and the intersectionality of race/ethnicity and gender among non-college-educated young adults.

Gender, competition, and performance: Evidence from chess players
Peter Backus et al.
Quantitative Economics, January 2023, Pages 349-380 


This paper studies gender differences in performance in a male‐dominated competitive environment chess tournaments. We find that the gender composition of chess games affects the behaviors of both men and women in ways that worsen the outcomes for women. Using a unique measure of within‐game quality of play, we show that women make more mistakes when playing against men. Men, however, play equally well against male and female opponents. We also find that men persist longer before losing to women. Our results shed some light on the behavioral changes that lead to differential outcomes when the gender composition of competitions varies.

Finding a Job: An Intersectional Analysis of Search Strategies and Outcomes Among U.S. STEM Graduates
Jennifer Glass et al
Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, forthcoming


Many STEM degree holders, especially women and minorities, are not employed in STEM occupations in the United States, and transitions into the STEM labor force among recent graduates have been declining since the 1980’s. We examine transitions from school to work at two large U.S. universities in 2015-16, focusing on the internship experiences and job search strategies of graduating chemistry and chemical engineering majors. Surprisingly, 28% of our STEM respondents had no post-graduation plans, though women were significantly more likely than men to already have a job. Overall race differences in post-graduation plans were insignificant, though Black and Hispanic students were more likely to have no post-graduation plans compared to Whites and Asians. While Black, Hispanic, and LGBT students reported fewer job search behaviors overall, potentially explaining this pattern, no gender differences in job search behaviors or internship experiences emerged to explain women’s employment advantage. However, better grades led to early job offers, reducing most of women’s initial hiring advantage along with positive internship experiences, which did not alter men’s likelihood of a job offer but were associated with a higher likelihood of a job offer among women.

Gender stereotypes, intellectual performance, and stereotype validation: The role of lay theories of intelligence
Kelsey Thiem & Jason Clark
Self and Identity, forthcoming 


A growing literature on stereotype validation suggests that negative, self-relevant stereotypes activated after poor task performance may lead stigmatized individuals to feel more certain they performed poorly. The present research examined a potential moderator of these effects: lay theories of intelligence. In two studies, gender stereotype accessibility was manipulated after participants finished a test of sports (Study 1) or science (Study 2) knowledge. Findings were consistent with increased stereotype validation among women who held incremental theories of intelligence. In particular, these women expressed elevated certainty in their poor performance when negative stereotypes were made salient after the performance. Furthermore, this enhanced certainty predicted negative downstream consequences for follow-up performance in the domain.

Bias-Motivated Updating in the Labor Market
Emma Rackstraw
Harvard Working Paper, December 2022 


In the canonical economics literature on discrimination, it is assumed that statistical discrimination based on inaccurate beliefs will not persist since agents have clear incentives to update as Bayesians based on accurate information. However, if beliefs about group productivity are driven by bias rather than by an agnostic lack of information, agents may be resistant to updating in the face of accurate information that contradicts stereotypes. In this experiment, I ask Prolific workers to report their beliefs about and make incentive-compatible wage offers to other workers based on anonymized resumes both before and after providing noisily accurate signals about performance by various groups. I find that these employers’ response to information about the labor market productivity of Black and White workers is a function of their implicit biases. Employers with stronger implicit biases against Black workers update their beliefs more in response to signals that are consistent with their biases (i.e. that imply the racial gap in productivity is higher than it really is) than they do in response to signals that are inconsistent (i.e. that imply the racial gap in productivity is smaller or even reversed). The existence of such bias-motivated asymmetric updating suggests that providing information about the labor market productivity of historically stigmatized groups may not be sufficient on its own to correct inaccurate beliefs or end inaccurate statistical discrimination.

The Unintended Consequences of Test-Based Remediation
David Figlio & Umut Özek
NBER Working Paper, January 2023


School systems around the world use achievement tests to assign students to schools, classes, and instructional resources, including remediation. Using a regression discontinuity design, we study a Florida policy that places middle school students who score below a proficiency cutoff into remedial classes. Students scoring below the cutoff receive more educational resources, but they are also placed in classes that are more segregated by race, socio-economic status, and prior achievement. Increased tracking occurs not only in the remedial subject, but also in other core subjects. These tracking effects are significantly larger and more likely to persist beyond the year of remediation for Black students.


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