Opportunities and Outcomes

Kevin Lewis

February 15, 2024

A Systematic Review and New Analyses of the Gender-Equality Paradox
Agneta Herlitz et al.
Perspectives on Psychological Science, forthcoming

Some studies show that living conditions, such as economy, gender equality, and education, are associated with the magnitude of psychological sex differences. We systematically and quantitatively reviewed 54 articles and conducted new analyses on 27 meta-analyses and large-scale studies to investigate the association between living conditions and psychological sex differences. We found that sex differences in personality, verbal abilities, episodic memory, and negative emotions are more pronounced in countries with higher living conditions. In contrast, sex differences in sexual behavior, partner preferences, and math are smaller in countries with higher living conditions. We also observed that economic indicators of living conditions, such as gross domestic product, are most sensitive in predicting the magnitude of sex differences. Taken together, results indicate that more sex differences are larger, rather than smaller, in countries with higher living conditions. It should therefore be expected that the magnitude of most psychological sex differences will remain unchanged or become more pronounced with improvements in living conditions, such as economy, gender equality, and education.

Deleting a Signal: Evidence from Pre-Employment Credit Checks
Alexander Bartik & Scott Nelson
Review of Economics and Statistics, forthcoming

We study the removal of information from a market, such as a job-applicant screening tool. We characterize how removal harms groups with relative advantage in that information: typically those for whom the banned information is most precise relative to alternative signals. We illustrate this using recent bans on employers' use of credit report data. Bans decrease job-finding rates for Black job-seekers by 3 percentage points and increase involuntary separations for Black new hires by 4 percentage points, primarily because other screening tools, such as interviews, have around 60% higher standard deviation of signal noise for Black relative to white job-seekers.

Automation and Gender: Implications for Occupational Segregation and the Gender Skill Gap
Patricia Cortés et al.
NBER Working Paper, January 2024

We examine the differential effects of automation on the labor market and educational outcomes of women relative to men over the past four decades. Although women were disproportionately employed in occupations with a high risk of automation in 1980, they were more likely to shift to high-skill, high-wage occupations than men in over time. We provide a causal link by exploiting variation in local labor market exposure to automation attributable to historical differences in local industry structure. For a given change in the exposure to automation across commuting zones, women were more likely than men to shift out of routine task-intensive occupations to high-skill, high wage occupations over the subsequent decade. The net effect is that initially routine-intensive local labor markets experienced greater occupational gender integration. College attainment among younger workers, particularly women, also rose significantly more in areas more exposed to automation. We propose a model of occupational choice with endogenous skill investments, where social skills and routine tasks are q-complements, and women have a comparative advantage in social skills, to explain the observed patterns. Supporting the model mechanisms, areas with greater exposure to automation experienced a greater movement of women into occupations with high social skill (and high cognitive) requirements than men.

The affirmed (White) teacher in a cross-race context
Shannon Brady, Camilla Mutoni Griffiths & Geoffrey Cohen
Social Psychology of Education, February 2024, Pages 47–68

Within psychology, efforts to address racial-ethnic disparities in students’ academic outcomes have focused primarily on students themselves. But there is another important person in classrooms: the teacher. In the United States, most racial-ethnically minoritized students are taught by White teachers. Drawing on research on cross-race interactions, we argue that for White teachers -- especially those new to the profession -- this dynamic is likely to elicit psychological threat, which then undermines their relationships with students, their well-being, and their effectiveness as an instructor. We hypothesized that values affirmation, a technique to mitigate threat and stress, could improve these outcomes. We randomly assigned White public school teachers (N = 109) at schools serving predominantly minoritized students to complete a values affirmation exercise or a matched control exercise in the fall of their first year of teaching. Five months later, affirmed teachers reported greater well-being and better teacher-student relationships than their control counterparts, and their classrooms were rated as more rigorous and more supportive of students’ academic growth by trained observers.

Are Claims of Fairness Toward Women in the Academy “Manufactured”? The Risk of Basing Arguments on Incomplete Data
Stephen Ceci & Wendy Williams
Sexuality & Culture, February 2024, Pages 1–20

Claims of widespread sexism in academic science frequently appear both in the mainstream media and in prestigious science journals. Often these claims are based on an unsystematic sampling of evidence or on anecdotes, and in many cases these claims are not supported by comprehensive analyses. Here we illustrate the importance of considering the full corpus of scientific data by focusing on a recent set of claims by two philosophers of science who argue that researchers who fail to find evidence of sexism in some domains of academia -- such as tenure-track hiring, grant funding, journal reviewing, letters of recommendation, and salary -- are as epistemically and socially problematic as are those who deny claims of anthropogenic climate change. We argue that such claims are misguided, and the result of ignoring important evidence. We show here that when the totality of evidence is considered, claims of widespread sexism are inconsistent with the canons of science.

Tick Off the Gender Diversity Box: Examining the Cross-Level Effects of Women’s Representation in Senior Management
Priyanka Dwivedi & Lionel Paolella
Academy of Management Journal, forthcoming

In male-dominated industries, organizations face considerable pressure to enhance women’s representation in top leadership roles. Firms respond to this pressure by increasing gender diversity in senior positions, but often fail to achieve a critical mass of senior women at the top. This raises a key question: What impact does greater gender diversity at the top have on junior women’s career opportunities? We develop an attention-based perspective on gender diversity and theorize that firms with relatively more women in senior management compared to their industry peers are likely to allocate fewer attentional resources, time, and effort toward internal diversity practices. This inadvertently hurts the recruitment of women at lower levels. We propose that one way to mitigate these adverse cross-level spillover effects is to ensure women’s substantive representation on committees responsible for overseeing and monitoring the firm’s diversity and hiring-related decision-making processes. We test our contentions and find support for our model using a panel dataset on the largest U.S. law firms. We conduct several supplemental analyses to provide insights into our findings.

The Gender Minority Gaps in Confidence and Self-Evaluation
Billur Aksoy, Christine Exley & Judd Kessler
NBER Working Paper, January 2024

A rich literature explores gender differences between men and women, but an increasing share of the population identifies their gender in some other way. Analyzing data on roughly 10,000 students and 1,500 adults, we find that such gender minorities are less confident and provide less favorable self-evaluations than equally performing men on a math and science test. We find that these "gender minority gaps" are robust, are as large as -- or larger than -- gender gaps between men and women, and are domain specific. Administrative data reveals that our confidence and self-evaluation measures are highly predictive of academic performance.

Racialized Early Grade (Mis)Behavior: The Links Between Same-Race/Ethnicity Teachers and Discipline in Elementary School
NaYoung Hwang, Patrick Graff & Mark Berends
AERA Open, February 2024

Studies persistently show disparities in exclusionary discipline across racial/ethnic groups in U.S. schools. Using administrative data from kindergarteners through fifth graders in Indiana, we examine the effects of student-teacher race/ethnicity matching on disciplinary outcomes. We find that Black students exhibit lower rates of suspension and expulsion when they study with Black teachers -- driven mainly by fewer defiance and profanity offenses. By contrast, for Latinx and White students, having a teacher of the same race/ethnicity is not associated with suspension and expulsion. In light of the shortage of Black teachers in the teacher workforce, our findings underscore the vulnerability of Black students to exclusionary discipline in the early stages of schooling.

Does Reducing Street-Level Bureaucrats’ Workload Enhance Equity in Program Access? Evidence from Burdensome College Financial Aid Programs
Elizabeth Bell & Katharine Meyer
Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, January 2024, Pages 16–38

Persistent disparities in program access jeopardize social equity and erode a key pillar of democratic governance. Scholars have uncovered the causes of these disparities, including administrative burden and front-line discrimination, but less attention has been devoted to identifying tools for reducing disparities. We build on this work by arguing that reducing street-level bureaucrats’ workload may be a key lever for reducing disparities. We also argue that workload reductions will be especially effective at advancing equity when administrative burden is expanded and complexity in client cases could otherwise create room for racial discrimination. We leverage data on all high schools in Oklahoma from 2005 to 2014 (n = 4,155) to estimate the causal effects of a state policy that mandates a counselor-student ratio in a regression discontinuity design. In line with our hypotheses, we find that decreasing workload corresponds to an increase in access for intersectionally minoritized students—low-income Black, Native American, and Hispanic students. Moreover, we find that effects were concentrated in the years after administrative burden was expanded. Together, our findings suggest that reducing workload can alleviate longstanding disparities in program access.


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