HR problems

Kevin Lewis

November 16, 2017

Gender-Inclusive Bathrooms Signal Fairness Across Identity Dimensions
Kimberly Chaney & Diana Sanchez
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming


While gender-inclusive bathrooms serve a practical function of providing a safe public restroom for transgender individuals, they may also signal identity safety for women and racial minorities who may experience identity threat in organizations. Across three studies, we demonstrated that women (Study 1) and racial minorities (Blacks, Latinos; Studies 2 and 3) report greater procedural fairness and a more positive gender (Study 1) or racial (Studies 2 and 3) climate in organizations with gender-inclusive bathrooms compared to traditional bathrooms. Further, these effects were due to companies with gender-inclusive bathrooms being perceived as lower in gender essentialism (Studies 1–3), signaling more egalitarian social environments (Study 3) and promoting identity safety across stigmatized identity dimensions.

When Two Bodies Are (Not) a Problem: Gender and Relationship Status Discrimination in Academic Hiring
Lauren Rivera
American Sociological Review, forthcoming


Junior faculty search committees serve as gatekeepers to the professoriate and play vital roles in shaping the demographic composition of academic departments and disciplines, but how committees select new hires has received minimal scholarly attention. In this article, I highlight one mechanism of gender inequalities in academic hiring: relationship status discrimination. Through a qualitative case study of junior faculty search committees at a large R1 university, I show that committees actively considered women’s — but not men’s — relationship status when selecting hires. Drawing from gendered scripts of career and family that present men’s careers as taking precedence over women’s, committee members assumed that heterosexual women whose partners held academic or high-status jobs were not “movable,” and excluded such women from offers when there were viable male or single female alternatives. Conversely, committees infrequently discussed male applicants’ relationship status and saw all female partners as movable. Consequently, I show that the “two-body problem” is a gendered phenomenon embedded in cultural stereotypes and organizational practices that can disadvantage women in academic hiring. I conclude by discussing the implications of such relationship status discrimination for sociological research on labor market inequalities and faculty diversity.

Perceived Entitlement Causes Discrimination Against Attractive Job Candidates in the Domain of Relatively Less Desirable Jobs
Margaret Lee et al.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming


People generally hold positive stereotypes of physically attractive people and because of those stereotypes often treat them more favorably. However, we propose that some beliefs about attractive people, specifically, the perception that attractive individuals have a greater sense of entitlement than less attractive individuals, can result in negative treatment of attractive people. We examine this in the context of job selection and propose that for relatively less desirable jobs, attractive candidates will be discriminated against. We argue that the ascribed sense of entitlement to good outcomes leads to perceptions that attractive individuals are more likely to be dissatisfied working in relatively less desirable jobs. When selecting candidates for relatively less desirable jobs, decision makers try to ascertain whether a candidate would be satisfied in those jobs, and the stereotype of attractive individuals feeling entitled to good outcomes makes decision makers judge attractive candidates as more likely to be dissatisfied in relatively less (but not more) desirable jobs. Consequently, attractive candidates are discriminated against in the selection for relatively less desirable jobs. Four experiments found support for this theory. Our results suggest that different discriminatory processes operate when decision makers select among candidates for relatively less desirable jobs and that attractive people might be systematically discriminated against in a segment of the workforce.

Effective to a fault: Organizational structure predicts attitudes toward minority organizations
Sean Fath, Devon Proudfoot & Aaron Kay
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, November 2017, Pages 290-297


We consider how the structure of groups seeking collective action on behalf of minorities impacts attitudes toward them. We predicted that hierarchical minority organizations are perceived as more effective social agents than non-hierarchical minority organizations and thus are particularly unlikely to be supported by those who prefer to maintain inequality. In a pretest, a hierarchical organization was judged more efficacious than a non-hierarchical organization. In two experiments (N = 814; N = 809), organizational structure (hierarchical vs. non-hierarchical) and membership (baseline vs. minority) were manipulated. Stronger preference for maintaining inequality was associated with increased desire to limit a minority organization's access to power, specifically when that organization was hierarchical. Findings suggest structure may signal the extent to which minority organizations pose a threat to the dominant social order and thus can drive responses to them. That is, minorities who organize may face unique pushback from those invested in maintaining inequality.

Testosterone facilitates the sense of agency
Donné van der Westhuizen et al.
Consciousness and Cognition, November 2017, Pages 58-67


Sense of agency (SoA) refers to feelings of being in control of one’s actions. Evidence suggests that SoA might contribute towards higher-order feelings of personal control – a key attribute of powerful individuals. Whether testosterone, a steroid hormone linked to power in dominance hierarchies, also influences the SoA is not yet established. In a repeated-measures design, 26 females participated in a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to test the effects of 0.5 mg testosterone on SoA, using an implicit measure based upon perceived shifts in time between a voluntary action and its outcome. Illusions of control, as operationalized by optimism in affective forecasting, were also assessed. Testosterone increased action binding but there was no significant effect on tone binding. Affective forecasting was found to be significantly more positive on testosterone. SoA and optimistic expectations are basic manifestations of power which may contribute to feelings of infallibility often associated with dominance and testosterone.

Class Matters: The Role of Social Class in High-Achieving Women's Career Narratives
Judith Clair et al.
Harvard Working Paper, August 2017


Our study explores the career narratives of women from diverse social class backgrounds as they describe how they ascended to elite organizational roles despite severe gender underrepresentation. We illuminate the varied ways that high-achieving women understand and retell their career stories, identifying five broad approaches to narrating their ascent against the odds: serendipity, competence, social ties, maneuvers, and aggressive action. We demonstrate the role that social class origins play in shaping the career narratives of these high achieving women. Women from lower social class backgrounds employ highly agentic narratives to fuel their success against the double obstacles of gender and class. In contrast, women from middle- and upper-class origins were constrained in their use of agentic narratives and were more likely to describe their success in terms of serendipity. The present findings shed light on the variation in women’s career narratives and demonstrate that some women deviate significantly from gender stereotypes by narrating their success using extreme levels of agency typically associated with men.

Prostitution, hours, job amenities and education
Scott Cunningham & Todd Kendall
Review of Economics of the Household, December 2017, Pages 1055–1080


We analyze the relationship between education and criminal behavior based on a survey of nearly 700 North American female escorts who provide (typically illegal) prostitution services. Nearly 40% of the women in our sample report college completion. College-educated women are less likely to see clients in any given week and do not earn higher average hourly wages. However, conditional on seeing any clients, college-educated prostitutes see more clients and provide longer client sessions. We demonstrate that these results are consistent with a model in which college-educated prostitutes have better outside options to prostitution, but are also able to reduce the marginal disutility of prostitution work by attracting fewer unpleasant clients and by combining sexual services with non-sexual services such as companionship, where college education may be productive.

The Other Gender Gap: Female Entrepreneurship after WWII
Patrick Luo
Harvard Working Paper, November 2017


I exploit exogenous variation in the marriage market across the US caused by World War II casualties to provide causal evidence on how opportunity cost influences women’s entrepreneurship decisions. I show that marriage is an important form of opportunity cost hindering women from starting new businesses. World War II casualties affected the local marriage market for single women and access to capital for war widows. Using novel business registration and individual-level census data, I find that single women are more active in starting new businesses when they face worse prospects in the marriage market. As a result, US counties with heavier casualties had a higher female share of entrepreneurs. This difference persists to this day. Evidence in favor of the marriage-market channel suggests that reducing opportunity cost is more effective in encouraging female entrepreneurship than merely providing financial subsidies.

Performance in Mixed-sex and Single-sex Competitions: What We Can Learn from Speedboat Races in Japan
Alison Booth & Eiji Yamamura
Review of Economics and Statistics, forthcoming


In speedboat racing in Japan, men and women compete under the same conditions and are randomly assigned to mixed-sex or single-sex groups for each race. We use a sample of over 140,000 individual-level records to examine how male-dominated circumstances affect women's racing performance. Our fixed-effects estimates reveal that women's race-time is slower in mixed-sex than all-women races, whereas men's race-time is faster in mixed-sex than men-only races. The same result is found for place-in-race. Moreover, in mixed-sex races, men are more ‘aggressive’ - as proxied by lane-changing - than women in spite of the risk of being penalized for rule-infringement.

Multicultural meritocracy: The synergistic benefits of valuing diversity and merit
Seval Gündemir et al.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, November 2017, Pages 34-41


Many organizations employ diversity initiatives, such as diversity mission statements, in order to effectively recruit and manage a diverse workforce. One approach emphasizes multiculturalism, which focuses on the acknowledgement and celebration of racial diversity. Multiculturalism has been found to produce greater inclusion by racial majorities and increased psychological engagement of racial minorities, but has also been linked to negative outcomes among Whites, from feelings of exclusion to greater stereotyping to perceiving racial discrimination claims as less valid. Another approach — value-in-merit — emphasizes a commitment to equal opportunity and meritocratic outcomes. The value-in-merit approach has been found to alleviate majority members' fear about exclusion but could create a threatening environment for minorities. We propose a hybrid approach — multicultural meritocracy — which combines the value-in-diversity elements of multiculturalism with the equal opportunity components of a value-in-merit ideology. We hypothesized that this integrative presentation would be a more effective approach for organizations than its constituent parts. Five studies demonstrated that the hybrid ideology of multicultural meritocracy limits the negative effects while retaining the positive impacts of the separate approaches. Compared to traditional multiculturalism, multicultural meritocracy reduced stereotype activation and de-legitimization of racial discrimination claims for Whites. Multicultural meritocracy also increased the psychological engagement of both racial minorities and Whites. Furthermore, we found that this increased engagement was driven by multicultural meritocracy increasing feelings of inclusion for both groups. Multicultural meritocracy offers an approach to diversity that benefits all members, both majority and minority, of a group.

Retention and promotion of women and underrepresented minority faculty in science and engineering at four large land grant institutions
Marcia Gumpertz et al.
PLoS ONE, November 2017


The current climate on college campuses has brought new urgency to the need to increase faculty diversity. In STEM fields particularly, the dearth of underrepresented minority (URM) and female faculty is severe. The retention and success of African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian and female faculty have direct implications for the quality and diversity of the future scientific workforce. Understanding the ways retention patterns differ by discipline and institution is crucial for developing a diverse faculty. This study investigates tenure attainment, retention, and time to promotion to full professor for women and URM faculty. We analyze personnel records for assistant and associate professors hired or appointed from 1992 to 2015 at four large land grant institutions. Representation of women and URM faculty in STEM disciplines increased substantially from 1992 to 2015, but mostly for women and Hispanic faculty and more slowly for black and American Indian faculty.

Sex Differences in Doctoral Student Publication Rates
Sarah Theule Lubienski, Emily Miller & Evthokia Stephanie Saclarides
Educational Researcher, forthcoming


Women in the sciences who earn PhDs are less likely than their male counterparts to pursue tenure-track positions at research universities. Moreover, among those who become STEM researchers, men have been found to publish more than women. These patterns raise questions about when sex differences in publication begin. Using data from a survey of doctoral students at one large institution, this study finds that men submitted and published more scholarly works than women across many fields, with differences largest in natural/biological sciences and engineering. Potential contributing factors are considered, including sex differences in faculty support, assistantships, family responsibilities, and career goals.

Can Learning Communities Boost Success of Women and Minorities in STEM? Evidence from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Lauren Russell
Economics of Education Review, December 2017, Pages 98-111 


I study the impacts of a freshman learning community at MIT called the Experimental Study Group (ESG) which has features aligning with the National Academies’ recommendations for expanding the representation and success of women and minorities in STEM fields. I exploit the lottery-based admission system to estimate causal treatment effects. I find no statistically significant effects on academic outcomes for ESG enrollees generally, but women who participate in the program have higher GPAs and complete more credits of coursework. Minority students are more likely to major in math, computer science, or electrical engineering after participating in the program. Though quite noisy, the results are suggestive that women and minorities in STEM may benefit from learning communities.

Student-Teacher Racial Match and Its Association With Black Student Achievement: An Exploration Using Multilevel Structural Equation Modeling
Lisa Yarnell & George Bohrnstedt
American Educational Research Journal, forthcoming


This study examines student-teacher “racial match” for its association with Black student achievement. Multilevel structural equation modeling was used to analyze 2013 National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP) Grade 4 Reading Assessment data to examine interactions of teacher race and student race in their associations with student achievement (N = 165,410 students, 23,710 teachers). Effects on Level 1 random slope parameters suggest that a match of Black male students with Black teachers is associated with higher reading scores for this group, as is a match of Black female students with a Black or Hispanic teacher. Level 2 effects suggest that greater classroom composition of Black males is associated with lower reading achievement. Moderation by gender and implications for educational policy are discussed.

Gender, risk tolerance, and false consensus in asset allocation recommendations
Nicolas Bollen & Steven Posavac
Journal of Banking & Finance, February 2018, Pages 304-317


We study the impact of gender on asset allocation recommendations. Graduate business students and professional wealth managers are randomly assigned a male or female client. Participants recommend an allocation and choose an allocation for themselves. Male students choose a riskier allocation than female students, consistent with existing evidence of a gender difference in risk tolerance, and recommend a riskier allocation. In contrast, male and female wealth managers choose and recommend the same allocation, indicating that male and female finance professionals feature similar risk preferences. In both samples, a subject's allocation choice is the strongest predictor of the recommendation provided.

Ethnic dissimilarity predicts belonging motive frustration and reduced organizational attachment
Kawon Kim et al.
Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, forthcoming


Some empirical studies show negative consequences of being demographically different from one’s group, but the underlying psychological mechanisms are not well understood. To address this gap, we investigated the role of the belonging and distinctiveness motives in individuals’ experiences of being ethnically dissimilar from their group. We propose that ethnic dissimilarity satisfies group members’ need for distinctiveness whereas it frustrates members’ need for belonging, and this frustration reduces their organizational attachment. An experimental study showed that ethnic dissimilarity led to heightened arousal of the belonging motive, indicating that this motive was frustrated. In a naturalistic study of real-life student groups, ethnic dissimilarity was associated with frustrated belonging, which in turn was associated with reduced organizational attachment. This paper contributes to the literature on demographic dissimilarity in groups by closely examining the effect of demographic dissimilarity on group members’ fundamental motives and reactions to group membership.

Discrimination, social identity, and coordination: An experiment
Vessela Daskalova
Games and Economic Behavior, forthcoming


This paper presents an experiment investigating whether decision makers discriminate between members of their own group and members of another group. I focus on two aspects of this question: First, I compare behavior in individual and in joint decisions; Second, I test whether the identity of the co-decision maker matters in joint decisions. Substantial own group favoritism occurs in joint decisions in spite of there being no such favoritism in individual decisions. Decision makers strongly favor own group candidates when deciding with someone from their own group, but not when deciding with someone from the other group. The study suggests that higher-order beliefs about co-decision maker behavior may be a factor behind discrimination in collective settings and that diversity in committees might be helpful in counteracting own group favoritism.

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