Kevin Lewis

January 03, 2019

Lean In messages increase attributions of women’s responsibility for gender inequality
Jae Yun Kim, Gráinne Fitzsimons & Aaron Kay
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, December 2018, Pages 974-1001


Although women’s underrepresentation in senior-level positions in the workplace has multiple causes, women’s self-improvement or “empowerment” at work has recently attracted cultural attention as a solution. For example, the bestselling book Lean In states that women can tackle gender inequality themselves by overcoming the “internal barriers” (e.g., lack of confidence and ambition) that prevent success. We sought to explore the consequences of this type of women’s empowerment ideology. Study 1 found that perceptions of women’s ability to solve inequality were associated with attributions of women’s responsibility to do so. Studies 2, 3, 5a, and 5b experimentally manipulated exposure to women’s empowerment messages, finding that while such messages increase perceptions that women are empowered to solve workplace gender inequality, they also lead to attributions that women are more responsible both for creating and solving the problem. Study 4 found a similar pattern in the context of a specific workplace problem, and found that such messages also lead to a preference for interventions focused on changing women rather than changing the system. Studies 5a and 5b sought to replicate prior studies and document the weakened effects of messages that explicitly explain that women’s “internal barriers” are the products of “external barriers” obstructing women’s progress. This research suggests that self-improvement messages intended to empower women to take charge of gender inequality may also yield potentially harmful societal beliefs.

Wage Discrimination in the NBA: Evidence Using Free Agent Signings
Candon Johnson & Eduardo Minuci
West Virginia University Working Paper, October 2018


There are multiple papers that study wage discrimination within the National basketball Association (NBA) in the 1980s and 1990s against black athletes. This paper revisits the topic to determine if the effects found previously are still prominent in recent NBA history using nearly 800 free agent signings from 2011-2017. Our data set using only free agency signings allows us to control for the effects of performance and player, coach, general manager, and team characteristics on player's wages, which presented a data limitation of the previous literature. Using the Oaxaca-Blinder decomposition and weighted linear regression models, we find that black athletes are underpaid relative to their counterparts. We find that 72.7% of the wage gap found is explained by racial discrimination in our preferred specification. Black players receive on average 20.5% less than their counterparts, all else equal. Moreover, we investigate different sources of discrimination in this labor market. Weighted quantile regressions show evidence of consumer discrimination in that black players with high audience visibility (role and star players) experience a larger racial wage gap. The size of the share of the white population is shown to be positively correlated with the racial wage gap. No employee nor employer discrimination is found.

Evidence of bias against girls and women in contexts that emphasize intellectual ability
Lin Bian, Sarah-Jane Leslie & Andrei Cimpian
American Psychologist, December 2018, Pages 1139-1153


Despite the numerous intellectual contributions made by women, we find evidence of bias against them in contexts that emphasize intellectual ability. In the first experiment, 347 participants were asked to refer individuals for a job. Approximately half of the participants were led to believe that the job required high-level intellectual ability; the other half were not. A Bayesian mixed-effects logistic regression revealed that the odds of referring a woman were 38.3% lower when the job description mentioned intellectual ability, consistent with the possibility of gender bias. We also found evidence of gender bias in Experiment 2, which was a preregistered direct replication of Experiment 1 with a larger and more diverse sample (811 participants; 44.6% people of color). Experiment 3 provided a developmental investigation of this bias by testing whether young children favor boys over girls in the context of intellectually challenging activities. Five- to 7-year-olds (N = 192) were taught how to play a team game. Half of the children were told that the game was for “really, really smart” children; the other half were not. Children then selected 3 teammates from among 6 unfamiliar children. Children’s initial selections were driven by ingroup bias (i.e., girls chose girls and boys chose boys), but children subsequently showed bias against girls, choosing girls as teammates for the “smart” game only 37.6% of the time (vs. 53.4% for the other game). Bias against women and girls in contexts where brilliance is prized emerges early and is a likely obstacle to their success.

No evidence of “weaponized Title IX” here: An empirical assessment of sexual misconduct reporting, case processing, and outcomes
Tara Richards
Law and Human Behavior, forthcoming


Little is known about actual incidents of gender-based violence reported by college students or the campus adjudication process or outcomes of reported cases. Data from Annual Security Reports (ASRs) and Title IX Coordinators was used to examine the context, processes, and outcomes of reported incidents of sexual misconduct (N = 1,054) at institutions of higher education (IHEs) in a Mid-Atlantic state. Results showed that ASRs undercounted incidents of sexual misconduct. Few incidents reported to Title IX Coordinators resulted in a formal Title IX complaint, and fewer still resulted in a finding of responsibility or suspension/expulsion of the responsible student. The primary outcome of reports were victim services, not perpetrator punishments. Significant variability within and between IHE types was also uncovered. Findings suggest that better data collection as well as research on victim engagement in the Title IX complaint process and on sexual misconduct at community colleges and independent IHEs is needed.

The Effects of Demographic Mismatch in an Elite Professional School Setting
Chris Birdsall, Seth Gerhsenson & Raymond Zuniga
Education Finance and Policy, forthcoming


Ten years of administrative data from a diverse, private, top-100 law school are used to examine the ways in which female and nonwhite students benefit from exposure to demographically similar faculty in first-year required law courses. Arguably causal impacts of exposure to same-sex and same-race instructors on course-specific outcomes such as course grades are identified by leveraging quasi-random classroom assignments and a two-way (student and classroom) fixed effects strategy. Having an other-sex instructor reduces the likelihood of receiving a good grade (A or A-) by one percentage point (3%) and having an other-race instructor reduces the likelihood of receiving a good grade by three percentage points (10%). The effects of student-instructor demographic mismatch are particularly salient for nonwhite and female students. These results provide novel evidence of the pervasiveness of demographic-match effects and of the graduate school education production function.

The conflicted language of interracial feedback
Kent Harber et al.
Journal of Educational Psychology, forthcoming


How is the natural language of feedback affected when instructors are White and learners are minorities? The present research addressed this question using a website called Feedback Forward through which White undergraduates provided extensive open-ended responses on a poorly written essay supposedly drafted by either a Black or a White fellow student. Results revealed a dissociation between the substance and style of feedback to the Black writer. The Black writer received selectively more overt praise for his or her writing and writing skills, and more encouragement to pursue a writing-related career, replicating past studies of the positive bias. However, this positively biased feedback was conveyed in a selectively more “lenient” style, marked by a simpler and less analytic vocabulary, more personal pronouns, more positive emotion words, and syntax that more closely mimicked that of the poorly written essay. Discomfort supplying feedback moderated these effects. Increased discomfort was associated with more substantive criticism to the White writer, and with a more lenient style to the Black writer. In sum, minority learners may be receiving open-ended feedback that is a perplexing blend of explicit praise conveyed in an implicitly diminishing manner. Additional results showed that manipulated self-image concerns produced positively biased copyedits to the Black writer, replicating Harber, Stafford, and Kennedy (2010). Direct queries from the fictive writer — in the form of rating-based questions — also favored the Black writer, whose essay, ability, and prospects were rated higher than those of the White writer.

Composition and compensation: The moderating effect of individual and team performance on the relationship between Black team member representation and salary
Erika Hall et al.
Journal of Applied Psychology, forthcoming


Despite considerable focus on how the demographic composition of a workplace (e.g., the representation of minorities, women) may adversely affect the salaries of all individuals within that workplace, few researchers have investigated the factors that may impede this deleterious effect. In two distinct samples of multiracial work teams and one experiment, we test the moderating factors that attenuate or exacerbate these demographic influences on the monetary assessments of individuals’ worth. Specifically, we demonstrate that the proportion of Black coworkers on a team is more negatively related to individual compensation for poorer, rather than higher, performing individuals or teams. Experimentally, we show that when performance is lower (individual or team), having more Black coworkers on a work team is related to greater stigmatization and, consequently, lower salaries. No such indirect effect is present, however, when performance is higher. These studies demonstrate that, under poor performance, the pernicious effects of stigma may have a wider reach than previously believed. Theoretical and practical implications of this finding are discussed.

Reducing Social Judgment Biases May Require Identifying the Potential Source of Bias
Jordan Axt, Grace Casola & Brian Nosek
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming


Social judgment is shaped by multiple biases operating simultaneously, but most bias-reduction interventions target only a single social category. In seven preregistered studies (total N > 7,000), we investigated whether asking participants to avoid one social bias affected that and other social biases. Participants selected honor society applicants based on academic credentials. Applicants also differed on social categories irrelevant for selection: attractiveness and ingroup status. Participants asked to avoid potential bias in one social category showed small but reliable reductions in bias for that category (r = .095), but showed near-zero bias reduction on the unmentioned social category (r = .006). Asking participants to avoid many possible social biases or alerting them to bias without specifically identifying a category did not consistently reduce bias. The effectiveness of interventions for reducing social biases may be highly specific, perhaps even contingent on explicitly and narrowly identifying the potential source of bias.

Discrimination at the Intersection of Age, Race, and Gender: Evidence from a Lab-in-the-field Experiment
Joanna Lahey & Douglas Oxley
NBER Working Paper, December 2018


We use a laboratory experiment with randomized resumes and eyetracking to explore the effects of race on employment discrimination over the lifecycle. We show race discrimination against prime-age black job applicants that diminishes into middle age before re-emerging for older applicants. Screeners mechanically process black and white resumes similarly, but spend less time on younger black resumes, suggesting they use negative heuristics or taste-based discrimination. Screeners demonstrate levels-based statistical discrimination, believing that younger black applicants have worse computer skills and more gaps in their job histories. We find no evidence that screeners believe black applicants have worse previous experience. Screeners demonstrate variance-based statistical discrimination against black applicants of all ages, suggesting that screeners perceive the stronger history signals for white applicants, with this type of discrimination disproportionately affecting older applicants. We find suggestive evidence that the signal sent by high school attended is weaker for younger black applicants compared to younger white applicants, and we find no evidence that the signal strength of the applicant’s address varies by race. Evidence from the CPS and an additional study supports the external validity of our experiment, particularly for female job applicants. Results are robust to different controls and specification choices.

An Exploratory Investigation of Americans’ Expression of Gender Bias Before and After the 2016 Presidential Election
Oriane Georgeac, Aneeta Rattan & Daniel Effron
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming


Did the 2016 U.S. presidential election’s outcome affect Americans’ expression of gender bias? Drawing on theories linking leadership with intergroup attitudes, we proposed it would. A preregistered exploratory survey of two independent samples of Americans pre- and postelection (ns = 1,098 and 1,192) showed no pre–post differences in modern sexism, concern with the gender pay gap, or perceptions of gender inequality and progress overall. However, supporters of Donald Trump (but not of Hillary Clinton) expressed greater modern sexism post- versus preelection — which in turn predicted reporting lower disturbance with the gender pay gap, perceiving less discrimination against women but more against men, greater progress toward gender equality, and greater female representation at top levels in the United States. Results were reliable when evaluated against four robustness standards, thereby offering suggestive evidence of how historic events may affect gender-bias expression. We discuss the theoretical implications for intergroup attitudes and their expression.

The Heterogeneous Effect of Affirmative Action on Performance
Anat Bracha, Alma Cohen & Lynn Conell-Price
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, forthcoming


This paper experimentally investigates the effect of gender-based affirmative action (AA) on performance in the lab, focusing on a tournament environment. The tournament is based on GRE math questions commonly used in graduate school admission, and at which women are known to perform worse on average than men. We find heterogeneous effect of AA on female participants: AA lowers the performance of high-ability women and increases the performance of low-ability women. Our results are consistent with two possible mechanisms — one is that AA changes incentives differentially for low- and high-ability women, and the second is that AA triggers stereotype threat.

Evidence of Own‐Race Bias in Heisman Trophy Voting
Nolan Kopkin
Social Science Quarterly, forthcoming

Methods: To study own‐race bias in Heisman Trophy voting, I use individual vote data from Heisman voters from 2002 to 2012 and an ordered probit model with controls for player and team performance that flexibly allows votes be affected by a player's race and racial match between player and voter.

Results: Estimates show nonblack voters are more likely to vote for nonblack players in absolute terms and compared with black voters assuming homogeneous voter preferences. Allowing preferences to vary by race, results show nonblack voters continue to be more likely to vote for nonblack players in absolute terms and are strongly suggestive of a larger relative bias in favor of nonblack players by nonblack voters as compared with black voters.

Rights by Fortune or Fight? Reexamining the Addition of Sex to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
Katherine Krimmel
Legislative Studies Quarterly, forthcoming


It is widely believed that the extension of protection against employment discrimination to women through Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (CRA) was a fluke, the product of an attempted “killer amendment” by civil rights opponents gone awry. My analysis challenges this conventional wisdom, showing that the coalition of Republicans and southern Democrats in support of the sex amendment to Title VII was consistent with broader patterns of support for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in the early to mid‐20th century. In other words, support appears to have been sincere, not sophisticated — proponents preferred a CRA with the sex amendment to one without. I proceed to show that concern about the direct impact on women, and not simply the instrumental impact on labor, played an important role in motivating this support. But, I also find reason for caution in interpreting support for workplace rights as evidence of broad support for women's rights at this time.

Gender attitudes of police officers: Selection and socialization mechanisms in the life course
Jennifer Ashlock
Social Science Research, forthcoming


Police officers may have attitudes that are more traditional than the general public, perhaps impacted by a unique “working personality”, but recent evidence suggests that more conservative individuals may be drawn to policing (LeCount, 2017). In this article I draw from the life course perspective to evaluate the degree to which two mechanisms explain police gender attitudes, selection into policing or socialization while on the job. I examine gender attitudes relating to division of labor in the home and women's disadvantage in the labor market, comparing police to non-police using the National Longitudinal Survey of the High School Class of 1972. Following employment patterns for respondents at the start of their policing career (age 18 to age 25), I find more support for occupational socialization than selection. A fixed effects model shows that men who became police officers shifted to become 26 percent more traditional in their gender attitudes in comparison to other men while the average person in the cohort became 22 percent less traditional. Women who entered policing in the mid-1970s were less traditional than other women and police status was not significantly related to their attitudes. While attitudes do not necessarily predict behavior, the results suggest that experiences in police work can enhance traditional gender attitudes. Policy recommendations are discussed.

Effects of peer comparisons on low-promotability tasks: Evidence from a university field experiment
Sofia Villas-Boas, Rebecca Taylor & Elizabeth Deakin
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, forthcoming


Governance — the way rules are set and implemented — in many institutions is sustained through the service of groups of individuals, performing low-promotability tasks. For instance, the success of not-for-profit professional societies, civic organizations, and public universities depends on the willingness of members and employees to serve in governance. Typically service is requested by annual calls to serve. We implement and analyze a field experiment at a large public university using a randomized experimental design, to investigate whether responses to calls to serve are affected by revealing a department’s service rankings among its peer departments. We find that revealing a service ranking in the lowest quartile leads to significantly higher response rates than disclosing a median and higher-than-median ranking. Second, beyond informing department heads of their departments’ service rank, directly informing individual faculty members does not have an additional effect on response rates. Third, we show that the treatment effects in the lowest serving quartile are driven by female faculty responses, even though female faculty members were no more likely than their male peers to respond to serve before the experiment. If taking on such tasks is detrimental to promotion, while important for the overall institution, this has implications for the faculty careers of women and men. We discuss potential mechanisms behind the results; formally testing these mechanisms is an area for future research.

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