More or less female

Kevin Lewis

October 26, 2017

A gender bias habit-breaking intervention led to increased hiring of female faculty in STEMM departments
Patricia Devine et al.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, November 2017, Pages 211-215


Addressing the underrepresentation of women in science is a top priority for many institutions, but the majority of efforts to increase representation of women are neither evidence-based nor rigorously assessed. One exception is the gender bias habit-breaking intervention (Carnes et al., 2015), which, in a cluster-randomized trial involving all but two departmental clusters (N = 92) in the 6 STEMM focused schools/colleges at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, led to increases in gender bias awareness and self-efficacy to promote gender equity in academic science departments and perceptions of a more positive departmental climate. Following this initial success, the present study compares, in a preregistered analysis, hiring rates of new female faculty pre- and post-manipulation. Whereas the proportion of women hired by control departments remained stable over time, the proportion of women hired by intervention departments increased by an estimated 18 percentage points (OR = 2.23, dOR = 0.34). Though the preregistered analysis did not achieve conventional levels of statistical significance (p < 0.07), the study has a hard upper limit on statistical power, as the cluster-randomized trial has a maximum sample size of 92 departmental clusters. These findings, however, have undeniable practical significance for the advancement of women in science, and provide promising evidence that psychological interventions can facilitate gender equity and diversity.

Why does teacher gender matter?
Dario Sansone
Economics of Education Review, December 2017, Pages 9-18


This paper shows that high school math and science teacher gender affects student interest and self-efficacy in STEM. However, such effects become insignificant once teacher behaviors and attitudes are taken into account, thus pointing towards an omitted variables bias. Teacher beliefs about male and female ability in math and science – as well as how teachers treat boys and girls in the classroom – matter more than teacher's own gender. The student fixed effects estimates also highlight that creating a positive learning environment and making math and science interesting are pivotal in engaging students in these subjects.

The Gold-Plated Escalator: Work-Linked Marriage, Gender, and Career Progression
Sue Moon & Colleen Stuart
Johns Hopkins University Working Paper, August 2017


While there is considerable research on barriers to women’s career progression, we know less about how successful women navigate these barriers. We propose that a work-linked marriage - or marriage in which partners’ share the same occupation and/or organization - facilitates women’s career progression. Drawing on social categorization and status-based perspectives, we theorize that women’s work-linked marriage may result in status leakage from husbands to wives, which leads to greater mobilization of resources embedded in wives’ social networks. We find support for our theory using data from a large, public sector organization. Results indicate that women in work-linked marriages were more likely to be promoted compared to women who were not in work-linked marriages. The number of mentors in the wife’s network moderated this relationship, such that work-linked married women experienced greater returns from their mentors compared to non work-linked women. While work-linked marriage may help women gain legitimacy and better information and opportunities from their networks, these same social forces may slow or stall the career progression of other women and groups. Taken together, our theory and results draw attention to the more subtle and nuanced mechanisms through which women progress in organizations and interventions to help close the gender leadership gap.

Occupational Prestige and the Gender Wage Gap
Kristin Kleinjans, Karl Fritjof Krassel & Anthony Dukes
Kyklos, November 2017, Pages 565–593


Occupational segregation by gender remains widespread and explains a significant part of the gender wage gap. We shed light on the reasons why occupational segregation persists despite the increases in women's education and labor force participation, and why it results in a gender wage gap. Women express a stronger relative preference than men for occupations that are valuable to society, which we argue is captured by their occupational prestige. If women prefer occupations with higher occupational prestige, they will earn lower wages because of compensating wage differentials. Using conditional logit models of occupational choice, we find statistically significant support for this hypothesis. The effect is economically significant: the gender differences in the weights placed on prestige and wages can explain up to one half of the gender wage gap resulting from occupational segregation, or about one fourth of the overall gender wage gap. Our results are strongest for individuals with low ability, which suggests that social norms may be an important factor in generating these gender differences.

Differential Support for Female Supervisors Among Men and Women
Andrea Vial et al.
Journal of Applied Psychology, forthcoming


Two studies evaluated the lay belief that women feel particularly negatively about other women in the workplace and particularly in supervisory roles. The authors tested the general proposition, derived from social identity theory (Tajfel & Turner, 1979, 2004), that women, compared to men, may be more supportive of other women in positions of authority, whereas men would respond more favorably to other men than to women in positions of authority. Consistent with predictions, data from an online experiment (n = 259), in which the authors randomly assigned men and women to evaluate identical female (vs. male) supervisors in a masculine industry, and a correlational study in the workplace using a Knowledge Networks sample (n = 198) converged to demonstrate a pattern of gender in-group favoritism. Specifically, in Study 1, female participants (vs. male participants) rated the female supervisor as higher status, were more likely to believe that a female supervisor had attained her supervisory position because of high competence, and viewed the female supervisor as warmer. Study 2 results replicated this pattern. Female employees (vs. male employees) rated their female supervisors as higher status and practiced both in-role and extra-role behaviors more often when their supervisor was female. In both studies, male respondents had a tendency to rate male supervisors more favorably than female supervisors, whereas female respondents tended to rate female supervisors more favorably than male supervisors. Thus, across both studies, the authors found a pattern consistent with gender in-group favoritism and inconsistent with lay beliefs that women respond negatively to women in authority positions.

Gender Representation in Economics Across Topics and Time: Evidence from the NBER Summer Institute
Anusha Chari & Paul Goldsmith-Pinkham
NBER Working Paper, October 2017


We document the representation of female economists on the conference programs at the NBER Summer Institute from 2001-2016. Over the period from 2013-2016, women made up 20.6 percent of all authors on scheduled papers. However, there was large dispersion across programs, with the share of female authors ranging from 7.3 percent to 47.7 percent. While the average share of women rose slightly from 18.5% since 2001-2004, a persistent gap between finance, macroeconomics and microeconomics subfields remains, with women consisting of 14.4 percent of authors in finance, 16.3 percent of authors in macroeconomics, and 25.9 percent of authors in microeconomics. We examine three channels potentially affecting female representation. First, using anonymized data on submissions, we show that the rate of paper acceptance for women is statistically indistinguishable to that of men. Second, we find that the share of female authors is comparable to the share of women amongst all tenure-track professors, but is ten percentage points lower than the share of women among assistant professors. Finally, within conference program, we find that when a woman organizes the program, the share of female authors and discussants is higher.

Men ask more questions than women at a scientific conference
Amy Hinsley, William Sutherland & Alison Johnston
PLoS ONE, October 2017


Gender inequity in science and academia, especially in senior positions, is a recognised problem. The reasons are poorly understood, but include the persistence of historical gender ratios, discrimination and other factors, including gender-based behavioural differences. We studied participation in a professional context by observing question-asking behaviour at a large international conference with a clear equality code of conduct that prohibited any form of discrimination. Accounting for audience gender ratio, male attendees asked 1.8 questions for each question asked by a female attendee. Amongst only younger researchers, male attendees also asked 1.8 questions per female question, suggesting the pattern cannot be attributed to the temporary problem of demographic inertia. We link our findings to the ‘chilly’ climate for women in STEM, including wider experiences of discrimination likely encountered by women throughout their education and careers. We call for a broader and coordinated approach to understanding and addressing the barriers to women and other under-represented groups. We encourage the scientific community to recognise the context in which these gender differences occur, and evaluate and develop methods to support full participation from all attendees.

Sharing of science is most likely among male scientists
Jorg Massen et al.
Scientific Reports, October 2017


Humans are considered to be highly prosocial, especially in comparison to other species. However, most tests of prosociality are conducted in highly artificial settings among anonymous participants. To gain a better understanding of how human hyper-cooperation may have evolved, we tested humans’ willingness to share in one of the most competitive fields of our current society: academia. Researchers were generally prosocial with 80% sharing a PDF of one of their latest papers, and almost 60% willing to send us their data. Intriguingly, prosociality was most prominent from male to male, and less likely among all other sex-combinations. This pattern suggests the presence of male-exclusive networks in science, and may be based on an evolutionary history promoting strong male bonds.

Female chess players outperform expectations when playing men
Tom Stafford
University of Sheffield Working Paper, September 2017


“Stereotype threat” has been offered as a potential explanation of differential performance between men and women in some cognitive domains. Questions remain about the reliability and generality of the phenomenon. Previous studies have found that stereotype threat is activated in female chess players when they are matched against male players. I use data from over 5.5 million games of international tournament chess and find no evidence of a stereotype threat effect.  In fact women players outperform expectations when playing men.  Further analysis shows no influence of degree of challenge, nor of player age, nor of prevalence of female role models in national chess leagues on differences in performance when women play men versus when they play women. Though this analysis contradicts one specific mechanism of influence of gender stereotypes, the persistent differences between male and female players suggest that systematic factors do exist and remain to be uncovered.

Exams disadvantage women in introductory biology
Cissy Ballen, Shima Salehi & Sehoya Cotner
PLoS ONE, October 2017


The gender gap in STEM fields has prompted a great deal of discussion, but what factors underlie performance deficits remain poorly understood. We show that female students underperformed on exams compared to their male counterparts across ten large introductory biology course sections in fall 2016 (N > 1500 students). Females also reported higher levels of test anxiety and course-relevant science interest. Results from mediation analyses revealed an intriguing pattern: for female students only, and regardless of their academic standing, test anxiety negatively impacted exam performance, while interest in the course-specific science topics increased exam performance. Thus, instructors seeking equitable classrooms can aim to decrease test anxiety and increase student interest in science course content. We provide strategies for mitigating test anxiety and suggestions for alignment of course content with student interest, with the hope of successfully reimagining the STEM pathway as one that is equally accessible to all.

Separating Spheres? Diverging Trends in Youth's Gender Attitudes About Work and Family
Joanna Pepin & David Cotter
Journal of Marriage and Family, forthcoming


The authors investigated whether trends in attitudes about gender were consistent with the gender stall primarily occurring in the family domain and examined potential mechanisms associated with changing gender norms. Using data from Monitoring the Future surveys (1976–2015), the authors assessed three components of trends in youth's beliefs about gender: the marketplace, the family, and mothers' employment. Findings showed continued increases in egalitarianism from 1976 through the mid-1990s across all three dimensions. Thereafter, support for egalitarianism in the public sphere plateaued at high levels, rising support for mothers' employment persisted at a slower pace, and conventional ideology about gender in families returned. The changing demographic composition of American high school students did not account for the gender attitude trends. Youth's mothers' employment and increased education were related to increased egalitarianism. Changes in population averages of mothers' employment and educational attainment were only weakly associated with increases in egalitarian attitudes.

Physical appearance and peer effects in academic performance
Rey Hernández-Julián & Christina Peters
Applied Economics Letters, forthcoming


A large literature examines the role of peer effects in shaping student academic outcomes. This article adds to that literature by introducing a new kind of peer effect – the effect of classmate physical appearance. We document that college students are assigned higher grades when in a classroom with peers who are rated as very attractive. This effect is strongest for female students and appears to be concentrated among the courses of younger and male instructors.

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