Gender representative

Kevin Lewis

May 12, 2016

Gender and the Returns to Attractiveness

Jaclyn Wong & Andrew Penner

Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, June 2016, Pages 113–123

This study uses data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) to 1) replicate research that documents a positive association between physical attractiveness and income; 2) examine whether the returns to attractiveness differ for women and men; and 3) explore the role that grooming plays in the attractiveness-income relationship. We find that attractive individuals earn roughly 20 percent more than people of average attractiveness, but this gap is reduced when controlling for grooming, suggesting that the beauty premium can be actively cultivated. Further, while both conventional wisdom and previous research suggest the importance of attractiveness might vary by gender, we find no gender differences in the attractiveness gradient. However, we do find that grooming accounts for the entire attractiveness premium for women, and only half of the premium for men. Our findings underscore the social construction of attractiveness, and in doing so illuminate a key mechanism for attractiveness premia that varies by gender.


Countries with Higher Levels of Gender Equality Show Larger National Sex Differences in Mathematics Anxiety and Relatively Lower Parental Mathematics Valuation for Girls

Gijsbert Stoet et al.

PLoS ONE, April 2016

Despite international advancements in gender equality across a variety of societal domains, the underrepresentation of girls and women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) related fields persists. In this study, we explored the possibility that the sex difference in mathematics anxiety contributes to this disparity. More specifically, we tested a number of predictions from the prominent gender stratification model, which is the leading psychological theory of cross-national patterns of sex differences in mathematics anxiety and performance. To this end, we analyzed data from 761,655 15-year old students across 68 nations who participated in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). Most importantly and contra predictions, we showed that economically developed and more gender equal countries have a lower overall level of mathematics anxiety, and yet a larger national sex difference in mathematics anxiety relative to less developed countries. Further, although relatively more mothers work in STEM fields in more developed countries, these parents valued, on average, mathematical competence more in their sons than their daughters. The proportion of mothers working in STEM was unrelated to sex differences in mathematics anxiety or performance. We propose that the gender stratification model fails to account for these national patterns and that an alternative model is needed. In the discussion, we suggest how an interaction between socio-cultural values and sex-specific psychological traits can better explain these patterns. We also discuss implications for policies aiming to increase girls’ STEM participation.


But You Don’t Look Like A Scientist!: Women Scientists with Feminine Appearance are Deemed Less Likely to be Scientists

Sarah Banchefsky et al.

Sex Roles, forthcoming

Two studies examined whether subtle variations in feminine appearance erroneously convey a woman’s likelihood of being a scientist. Eighty photos (half women) of tenured/tenure-track science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) faculty at elite research universities were selected from the Internet. Participants, naïve to the targets’ occupations, rated the photos on femininity and likelihood of being a scientist and an early childhood educator. Linear mixed model analysis treated both participants and stimuli as random factors, enabling generalization to other samples of participants and other samples of stimuli. Feminine appearance affected career judgments for female scientists (with increasing femininity decreasing the perceived likelihood of being a scientist and increasing the perceived likelihood of being an early childhood educator), but had no effect on judgments of male scientists. Study 2 replicated these findings with several key procedural modifications: the presentation of the stimuli was manipulated to either be blocked by gender or completely randomized, questions pertaining to the stimuli’s appearance were removed, and a third career judgment likelihood rating was added to avoid tradeoffs between scientist and early childhood educator. In both studies, results suggest that for women pursuing STEM, feminine appearance may erroneously signal that they are not well suited for science.


Gender Differences in Response to Competition With Same-Gender Coworkers: A Relational Perspective

Sun Young Lee, Selin Kesebir & Madan Pillutla

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

We take a relational perspective to explain how women and men may differently experience competition with their same-gender coworkers. According to gender socialization research, the female peer culture values harmony and the appearance of equality, whereas hierarchical ranking is integral to the male peer culture. As competition dispenses with equality and creates a ranking hierarchy, we propose that competition is at odds with the norms of female (but not male) peer relationships. On this basis, we predicted and found in 1 correlational study and 3 experiments that women regard competition with their same-gender coworkers as less desirable than men do, and that their relationships with each other suffer in the presence of competition. We discuss the implications of these findings for women’s career progression.


Preference for the Workplace, Human Capital, and Gender

Matthew Wiswall & Basit Zafar

NBER Working Paper, April 2016

In this paper, we use a hypothetical choice methodology to robustly estimate preferences for workplace attributes and quantify how much these preferences influence pre-labor market human capital investments. Undergraduate students are presented with sets of job offers that vary in their attributes (such as earnings and job hours flexibility) and asked to state their probabilistic choices. We show that this method robustly identifies preferences for various job attributes, free from omitted variable bias and free from considering the equilibrium matching of workers to jobs. While there is substantial heterogeneity in preferences, we find that women on average have a higher willingness to pay for jobs with greater work flexibility (lower hours, and part-time option availability) and job stability (lower risk of job loss), and men have a higher willingness to pay for jobs with higher earnings growth. Using a follow-up survey several years after the experiment, we find a systematic relationship between the respondents' job preferences as revealed during college and the actual workplace characteristics of the jobs these individuals are currently working at after college. In the second part of the paper, we relate these job attribute preferences to major choice. Using data on students' perceptions about the demand side of the labor market -- beliefs about expected attributes of jobs students anticipate being offered if they were to complete particular majors -- we find that students perceive jobs offered to Humanities majors to have fewer hours, more work-time flexibility, and higher stability than jobs offered to Economics/Business majors. These job attributes are found to play a role in major choice, with women exhibiting greater sensitivity to non-pecuniary job attributes in major choice.


Facilitating Women’s Success in Business: Interrupting the Process of Stereotype Threat through Affirmation of Personal Values

Zoe Kinias & Jessica Sim

INSEAD Working Paper, March 2016

Two field experiments examined if and how values affirmations can ameliorate stereotype threat-induced gender performance gaps in an international competitive business environment. Based on self-affirmation theory (Steele, 1988), we predicted that writing about personal values unrelated to the perceived threat would attenuate the gender performance gap. Study 1 found that an online assignment to write about one’s personal values (but not a similar writing assignment including organizational values) closed the gender gap in course grades by 89.0% among 423 Masters of Business Administration students (MBAs) at an international business school. Study 2 replicated this effect among 396 MBAs in a different cohort with random assignment and tested three related mediators (self-efficacy, self-doubt, and self-criticism). Personal values reflection (but not reflecting on values including those of the organization or writing about others’ values) reduced the gender gap by 66.5%, and there was a significant indirect effect through reduced self-doubt. These findings show that a brief personal values writing exercise can dramatically improve women’s performance in competitive environments where they are negatively stereotyped. The results also demonstrate that stereotype threat (Steele & Aronson, 1995) can occur within a largely non-American population with work experience and that affirming one’s core personal values (without organizational values) can ameliorate the threat.


Some Evidence for a Gender Gap in Personality and Social Psychology

Adam Brown & Jin Goh

Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

This research examined a possible gender gap in personality and social psychology. According to membership demographics from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP), women and men are represented near parity in the field. Yet despite this equal representation, the field may still suffer from a different type of gender gap. We examined the gender of first authors in two major journals, citations to these articles, and gender of award recipients. In random samples of five issues per year across 10 years (2004–2013; N = 1,094), 34% of first authors in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology were women and 44% of first authors in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin were women. Articles authored by men were cited more than those authored by women. In examining the gender of award recipients given by SPSP (2000–2016), on average, 25% of the recipients were women.


Gender and entrepreneurial success: Evidence from survey data

Benjamin Artz

Applied Economics Letters, forthcoming

A wealth of studies have contributed to the literature on gender differences in entrepreneurial success, but most lack key controls that aid in determining that success. Scale of the entrepreneur’s business is often not accounted for, and no studies to the author’s knowledge approach the gender comparison by specifically utilizing a sample of entrepreneur-only managed businesses. This allows for a direct comparison between individual entrepreneurs’ performance by gender, without the confounding heterogeneity that workforces may introduce. Data are taken from a national US survey of individuals, and model specifications include a number of important but oftentimes unavailable controls that have never before been used in conjunction. Female and male entrepreneurial success are statistically equal after controlling for risk preferences, intelligence, start-up capital, prior industry experience and hours worked at the business. Alternative specifications and sensitivity checks confirm and expand on these results.


Second Thoughts About Second Acts: Gender Differences in Serial Founding Rates

Venkat Kuppuswamy & Ethan Mollick

University of North Carolina Working Paper, March 2016

Men are far more likely to start new ventures than women. We argue that one explanation of this gap is that women respond differently to signals of past entrepreneurial success due to the “male hubris, female humility” effect. We argue that as a result women are disproportionately less likely to persist in second founding attempts than men when they have succeeded or failed by large margins. Using a data set of serial founders in crowdfunding, we find evidence supporting this prediction. We then turn to a unique survey of founders in crowdfunding in order to examine alternative explanations. We find support for a variety of systematic differences between male and female founders, but the persistence effect remains. While decreased persistence in the face of low quality opportunities benefits women individually, we argue that it disadvantages women as a group, as it leads to 25.3% fewer female-led foundings in our sample than would have occurred if women reacted similarly to men.


Human sex differences in solving a virtual navigation problem

Robert Astur et al.

Behavioural Brain Research, 15 July 2016, Pages 236–243

The current study examined sex differences in initial and subsequent strategies in solving a navigational problem within a virtual reality environment. We tested 163 undergraduates on a virtual T-maze task that included probe trials designed to assess whether participants were responding using either a place or response strategy. Participants were also tested on a mental rotation task and memory of the details of the virtual room. There were no differences between the sexes in copying or recalling a map of the room or on first trial performance of the T-maze. However, at trial two, males show a significant advantage in solving the task, and approximately 80% of the males adopt a place strategy to solve the T-maze whereas females at that point showed no strategy preference. Across all testing, both males and females preferentially used a place strategy. We discuss how factors such as spatial priming affect strategy preferences and how such factors may differentially affect males and females.


The Mobilization of Title IX in Colleges and Universities, 1994-2014

Celene Reynolds

Yale Working Paper, April 2016

Title IX has been widely recognized as a crucial step toward gender equality in America. Yet it remains unclear how the law actually functions, particularly how it has been used in response to gender disparities in higher education. This article provides the first systematic analysis of how Title IX has been mobilized at the postsecondary level. Drawing on new data acquired through seven Freedom of Information Act requests, I analyze all resolved Title IX complaints filed with the Office of Civil Rights against four-year nonprofit colleges and universities from 1994 to 2014 (N=6,654). I find that the mobilization of Title IX has changed both in frequency and in kind during this period. Filings started to rise after 2000 and exploded after 2009, while sexual harassment complaints nearly equaled academic and athletic filings for the first time in 2014. Finally, despite the egalitarian design of the complaint process, private schools and more selective schools face a disproportionate number of complaints relative to enrollment, indicating the power of institutions in mediating legal mobilization.


The Public Policy Roots of Women's Increasing College Degree Attainment: The National Defense Education Act of 1958 and the Higher Education Act of 1965

Deondra Rose

Studies in American Political Development, April 2016, Pages 62-93

How do we explain the steep increase in women's higher educational attainment that began in the mid-twentieth century and has continued, unchecked, in subsequent decades? Although many point to the emergence of feminism and the creation of Title IX in the 1970s as the origins of this trend, I argue that two federal student aid programs — the National Defense Education Act of 1958 and the Higher Education Act of 1965 — helped set the stage for women to surpass men as the recipients of bachelor's degrees. Using historical analysis of primary and secondary resources, I present two related case studies that demonstrate the central role that unique political contexts and nondiscriminatory program administration have played in lawmakers' capacity to promote equal opportunity through public policy. This study suggests that women's increasing college degree attainment has important, but frequently overlooked, public policy roots.


Does Encouragement Matter in Improving Gender Imbalances in Technical Fields? Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial

Cait Unkovic, Maya Sen & Kevin Quinn

PLoS ONE, April 2016

Does encouragement help address gender imbalances in technical fields? We present the results of one of the first and largest randomized controlled trials on the topic. Using an applied statistics conference in the social sciences as our context, we randomly assigned half of a pool of 3,945 graduate students to receive two personalized emails encouraging them to apply (n = 1,976) and the other half to receive nothing (n = 1,969). We find a robust, positive effect associated with this simple intervention and suggestive evidence that women responded more strongly than men. However, we find that women’s conference acceptance rates are higher within the control group than in the treated group. This is not the case for men. The reason appears to be that female applicants in the treated group solicited supporting letters at lower rates. Our findings therefore suggest that “low dose” interventions may promote diversity in STEM fields but may also have the potential to expose underlying disparities when used alone or in a non-targeted way.


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