Counted out

Kevin Lewis

August 09, 2018

Punishment and Inequality at an Early Age: Exclusionary Discipline in Elementary School
Wade Jacobsen, Garrett Pace & Nayan Ramirez
Social Forces, forthcoming

We advance current knowledge of school punishment by examining (1) the prevalence of exclusionary discipline in elementary school, (2) racial disparities in exclusionary discipline in elementary school, and (3) the association between exclusionary discipline and aggressive behavior in elementary school. Using child and parent reports from the Fragile Families Study, we estimate that more than one in ten children born between 1998 and 2000 in large US cities were suspended or expelled by age nine, when most were in third grade. We also find extreme racial disparity; about 40 percent of non-Hispanic black boys were suspended or expelled, compared to 8 percent of non-Hispanic white or other-race boys. Disparities are largely due to differences in children’s school and home environments rather than to behavior problems. Next, consistent with social stress and strain theories, we find suspension or expulsion associated with increased aggressive behavior in elementary school. This association does not vary by race but is robust to a rich set of covariates, within-individual fixed effects, and matching methods. In conjunction with what we find for racial disparities, our results imply that school discipline policies relying heavily on exclusionary punishment may be fostering childhood inequality.

Math, girls and socialism
Quentin Lippmann & Claudia Senik
Journal of Comparative Economics, forthcoming

This paper argues that the socialist episode in East Germany, which constituted a radical experiment in gender equality in the labor market and other instances, has left persistent tracks on gender norms. We focus on one of the most resilient and pervasive gender gaps in modern societies: mathematics. Using the German division as a natural experiment, we show that the underperformance of girls in math is sharply reduced in the regions of the former GDR, in contrast with those of the former FRG. We show that this East–West difference is due to girls’ attitudes, confidence and competitiveness in math, and not to other confounding factors, such as the difference in economic conditions or teaching styles across the former political border. We also provide illustrative evidence that the gender gap in math is smaller in European countries that used to be part of the Soviet bloc, as opposed to the rest of Europe. The lesson is twofold: (1) a large part of the pervasive gender gap in math is due to social stereotypes; (2) institutions can durably modify these stereotypes.

“I won't let you down:” Personal ethical lapses arising from women’s advocating for others
Maryam Kouchaki & Laura Kray
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, July 2018, Pages 147-157

The current research examines whether women’s personal ethics are compromised when representing others in strategic interactions. Across five studies (n = 1337), we demonstrate that women’s ethical choices are more sensitive to whether they are representing themselves versus advocating for others compared to men’s ethical choices. We find that other-advocating women are more deceptive than self-advocating women, whereas men are just as likely to engage in morally questionable behaviors when representing themselves or others. We further show that women’s unethical behavior is driven by their anticipatory guilt as they seek to not let their constituents down in an advocacy role. Relative to men, women’s ethical behavior when advocating on behalf of others is especially likely to reflect the presumed ethical preferences of their constituents rather than solely a reflection of their own ethical preferences. Given women’s relatively high personal ethics, these results establish a risk to adopting an advocacy role for women: the social considerations inherent to advocacy put pressure on women to engage in deceptive behaviors that compromise their personal ethics.

Gender productivity gap among star performers in STEM and other scientific fields
Herman Aguinis, Young Hun Ji & Harry Joo
Journal of Applied Psychology, forthcoming

We examined the gender productivity gap in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and other scientific fields (i.e., applied psychology, mathematical psychology), specifically among star performers. Study 1 included 3,853 researchers who published 3,161 articles in mathematics. Study 2 included 45,007 researchers who published 7,746 articles in genetics. Study 3 included 4,081 researchers who published 2,807 articles in applied psychology and 6,337 researchers who published 3,796 articles in mathematical psychology. Results showed that (a) the power law with exponential cutoff is the best-fitting distribution of research productivity across fields and gender groups and (b) there is a considerable gender productivity gap among stars in favor of men across fields. Specifically, the underrepresentation of women is more extreme as we consider more elite ranges of performance (i.e., top 10%, 5%, and 1% of performers). Conceptually, results suggest that individuals vary in research productivity predominantly because of the generative mechanism of incremental differentiation, which is the mechanism that produces power laws with exponential cutoffs. Also, results suggest that incremental differentiation occurs to a greater degree among men and certain forms of discrimination may disproportionately constrain women’s output increments. Practically, results suggest that women may have to accumulate more scientific knowledge, resources, and social capital to achieve the same level of increase in total outputs as their male counterparts. Finally, we offer recommendations on interventions aimed at reducing constraints for incremental differentiation among women that could be useful for narrowing the gender productivity gap specifically among star performers.

Identity-safe or threatening? Perceptions of women-targeted diversity initiatives
Jessica Cundiff, Sohee Ryuk & Katie Cech
Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, August 2018, Pages 745-766

One strategy for addressing gender disparities in STEM and leadership focuses on women-targeted diversity initiatives, such as women’s networking groups and women’s leadership development programs. Although well intentioned, targeting diversity initiatives specifically toward women instead of all employees may unwittingly make workplaces appear unwelcoming and biased to prospective employees. To test this notion, undergraduate women and men read a recruitment brochure for a company that framed its diversity initiatives as either targeting women employees or all employees. Both women and men felt less social fit and comfort with the company and were more concerned about being treated negatively and unfairly when diversity initiatives were framed as women-targeted rather than all-inclusive. These results held regardless of whether the company was portrayed as male-dominated or gender equitable (Study 1, N = 117). However, results were somewhat attenuated for women, but not men, when the women-targeted program was portrayed as initiated and led by women employees rather than upper management (Study 2, N = 152). Overall, our results suggest that diversity initiatives may more effectively convey identity safety to both women and men when framed in a way that includes all employees rather than targeting only women.

Any Press is Good Press? The Unanticipated Effects of Title IX Investigations on University Outcomes
Jason Lindo et al.
NBER Working Paper, July 2018

Since 2011, when the landmark “Dear Colleague” letter declared that the Department of Education (DoE) would use equal-access requirements of federal law to remediate sexual assault on college campuses, 458 investigations have been opened. This letter was withdrawn in 2017 and it remains uncertain how the DoE will handle the issue in the future. We examine the effects of the investigations arising from the 2011 policy change on university outcomes. We find that applications and enrollment increase in response to Title IX investigations, for both males and females. We find little evidence of effects on degree completion or donations.

Climate control: The relationship between social identity threat and cues to an identity-safe culture
William Hall et al.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Social identity threat has been proposed as a key contributor to the underrepresentation of women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), but little research has sought to pinpoint naturally occurring contextual predictors of identity threat for women already training or working in STEM. The focus of the present research was to examine how cues to an identity-safe culture predict more or less positive interactions between men and women in STEM in ways that may trigger or minimize women’s daily experience of social identity threat. Specifically, we examined the role of inclusive organizational policies and/or greater female representation as 2 identity safety cues. In 2 daily diary studies of working engineers’ experiences, and in an experiment with undergraduate engineering students, we tested a model whereby cues to identity safety predict lower social identity threat for women in STEM, as mediated by having (or expecting to have) more positive interactions with male (but not female) colleagues. Results across each study and an internal meta-analysis of overall effects revealed that female engineers’ actual and anticipated daily experience of social identity threat was lower in organizations perceived to have more gender-inclusive policies (but was not consistently predicted by gender representation). The link between gender-inclusive policies and lower social identity threat was mediated by women having (or expecting to have) more positive conversations with male (and not female) colleagues, and was only found for women and not men. The implications for reducing social identity threat in naturalistic settings are discussed.

The Yin and Yang of entrepreneurship: Gender differences in the importance of communal and agentic characteristics for entrepreneurs' subjective well-being and performance
Keith Hmieleski & Leah Sheppard
Journal of Business Venturing, forthcoming

This research examines gender differences in the relationships of entrepreneurs' agentic and communal personality characteristics with measures of subjective well-being and new venture performance. Results from a stratified national (USA) random sample of founding CEOs (N = 303) demonstrate the advantages of an agentic characteristic (creativity) for women and a communal characteristic (teamwork) for men, with regard to the respective abilities of such persons to achieve high levels of subjective well-being and new venture performance. These relative advantages for women and men were mediated by perceptions of person-work fit.

Racial Disparities in Student Debt and the Reproduction of the Fragile Black Middle Class
Jason Houle & Fenaba Addo
Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, forthcoming

A nascent literature recognizes that student loan debt is racialized and disproportionately affects youth of color, especially black youth. In this study, the authors expand on this research and ask whether black-white disparities in student debt persist, decline, or increase across the early adult life course, examine possible mechanisms for changes in racial disparities in student debt across early adulthood, and ask whether racial disparities in student debt contribute to black-white wealth inequality among a recent cohort of college-going young adults. The authors address these questions using nationally representative data from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth 1997, multilevel growth curve models, and linear decomposition methods. There are three findings. First, black-white disparities in debt increase across the early adult life course, and previous research underestimated racial disparities in debt. Second, growth in this racial disparity is partially explained by differences in the social background, postsecondary experiences, and disparities in attained social and economic status of black and white young adults. As a result, the authors find that, compositionally, racial inequalities in student debt account for a substantial minority of the black-white wealth gap in early adulthood and that this contribution increases across the early adult life course. The authors conclude that debt trajectories are more informative than point-in-time estimates and that student debt may be a new mechanism of wealth inequality that creates fragility in the next generation of the black middle class.

Job Market Signaling through Occupational Licensing
Peter Blair & Bobby Chung
NBER Working Paper, July 2018

A large literature demonstrates that occupational licensing is a labor market friction that distorts labor supply allocation and prices. We show that an occupational license serves as a job market signal, similar to education. In the presence of occupational licensing, we find evidence that firms rely less on observable characteristics such as race and gender in determining employee wages. As a result, licensed minorities and women experience smaller wage gaps than their unlicensed peers.

Ethological observations of social behavior in the operating room
Laura Jones et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 17 July 2018, Pages 7575-7580

Operating rooms (ORs) are inhabited by hierarchical, mixed-gender clinical teams that are often prone to conflict. In evolutionary terms, one expects more within- than between-gender rivalries, especially since the OR is a place where all sorts of social interactions occur, not merely technical communications. To document the full range of behavior, the present study used ethological observation techniques, recording live all social behavior by the team. Using an ethogram, 6,348 spontaneous social interactions and nontechnical communications were timestamped during 200 surgical procedures. Cooperation sequences (59.0%) were more frequent than conflict sequences (2.8%), which ranged from constructive differences of opinion to discord and distraction that could jeopardize patient safety. Behavior varied by clinical role and with the gender composition in the OR. Conflict was initiated mostly down the hierarchy between individuals several ranks apart. Cooperation tended to increase with a rising proportion of females in the OR, but the most pronounced effect concerned the interaction between both genders. If the attending surgeon’s gender differed from that of the majority of other personnel in the OR, cooperation was significantly more common.

The Impact of World War II on the Demand for Female Workers in Manufacturing
Dina Shatnawi & Price Fishback
Journal of Economic History, June 2018, Pages 539-574

Most studies of female workers in the 1940s focus on labor supply. We use the basics of supply and demand to measure the impact of WWII on the short- and medium-run demand for female workers in manufacturing. Demand rose for both salaried and production female workers during the war and then fell after the war. However, the post-war demands for both groups were substantially higher than before the war and higher than the levels that would have been reached had the demands followed a counterfactual growth path from the boom period in the 1920s.

Increasing Workplace Diversity: Evidence From a Recruiting Experiment at a Fortune 500 Company
Jeffrey Flory et al.
BYU Working Paper, April 2018

The persistent lack of workplace diversity in management and leadership may lead to organizational vulnerabilities. White males occupy most high-profile positions in the largest U.S. corporations whereas African Americans, Hispanics, and women are clearly underrepresented in leadership roles. While many firms and other organizations have set ambitious goals to increase demographic diversity, there is a dearth of empirical evidence on effective ways to reach them. We use a natural field experiment to test several hypotheses on effective means to attract minority candidates for top professional careers. By randomly varying the content in recruiting materials of a major financial services corporation with over 10,000 employees, we test different types of signals regarding the extent and manner in which the employer values diversity among its workers. We find that signaling explicit interest in employee diversity can reverse the ethnicity gap in rates of interest and applications, and that it has a strong positive effect on interest in openings among racial minority candidates, the likelihood that they apply, and the probability that they are selected. These results uncover an effective method for disrupting monocultures in management through a minor intervention that influences sorting among job-seekers into high-profile careers.

Groups, Inequality, and Synergy
Bianca Manago, Jane Sell & Carla Goar
Social Forces, forthcoming

We combine insights from the sociological and psychological traditions of social psychology to examine how status inequality may affect group performance. Specifically, we examine how synergy, that is, performance gains produced through group interaction, is realized in ethnically diverse groups. Research suggests that diverse work groups struggle to capitalize on the strengths of all group members, and in turn, achieve synergy less frequently than homogeneous groups. We examine how an intervention in the status generalizing process affects group members’ influence — and how this affects synergistic gains (n = 50). We study these processes over a three-week period of time. In groups that received an intervention in the status generalizing process (experimental condition), racial hierarchy is decreased in weeks 1 and 3 — but inequality remained in baseline groups. Additionally, in week 3, experimental groups achieved synergy more than baseline groups and did not perform worse than baseline groups on any task.

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