Bias separation between women and men in terms of professional qualification level

The Great Resignation was not a choice for many women. From historic labor shortages in day care centers The pandemic is reducing the already limited opportunities for working mothers, including unforeseeable school closures twice as likely as fathers who are retiring from their careers or retiring from work due to a lack of childcare. More and more people are becoming aware of the obstacles women face when advancing in their careers. But a looming question is: will companies support or hinder women’s attempts to regain the momentum lost when they were pushed out of the labor market?

organizational initiatives aimed at raising awareness of gender inequality are popular – if not entirely effective. but research I conducted at the University of California, San Diego with Oliver Hahl, an associate professor at Carnegie Mellon University, and suggests that awareness is an inadequate solution to the problem. We find that, even though women’s experiences of discrimination are prominent in people’s minds, overqualified women are still being hired for the same jobs and are considered adequately qualified men. This means that inequality in the workplace is not solely the fault of overt sexists who abuse women. It is also inadvertently perpetuated by people who are aware of the problem and motivated to help.

over several studieswe asked around 1,500 people with recruitment experience to rate the candidates’ suitability for an open position and to explain their assessments. This provides both quantitative and qualitative insights. In these studies, we randomly assigned individuals to evaluate an applicant who either had the required qualifications (the “fairly qualified candidate”) or had far more qualifications than required (the “overqualified candidate”). To indicate gender, job applicants have stereotypically male or female first names. Our experimental method ensures that comparisons are made between equally overqualified and adequately qualified male and female candidates. Results show again and again that people are comfortable hiring women, but not men, for jobs they are overqualified for.

Although overqualified men are labeled as refugees who feel “too good for the job” and “leave as soon as he finds a better-paying job,” people don’t have these concerns about overqualified women. It’s not that they don’t recognize women’s overqualification, which was a possibility we considered because of that Double standards regarding women’s competence at work.

Instead, it’s easier to rationalize the motivations of overqualified women. They do not believe that overqualified women pose flight risks because of gender stereotypes that women value their relationships more. They also assume that overqualified women will apply for lower positions to avoid unfair obstacles to their advancement in their current company. Women’s possible experiences of discrimination are used to justify their hiring for jobs for which they are overqualified; It is intended as a way to help women out of a bad situation. Our complementary experiment supports this: overqualified women are less likely to be hired if it is clear that they are not discriminated against in their current job.

But hiring overqualified women and rejecting overqualified men does women a disservice. When you consider that we also find people hiring suitably qualified men instead of suitably qualified women, that means women to need be overqualified to get hired.

Our research shows that women need to be overqualified to convince people to pursue careers. Although overqualified women are seen as career-oriented, sufficiently qualified women are not. People are reluctant to hire sufficiently qualified women, arguing, “She’s not here for the job; She acknowledges that the new company has more flexible regulations” and therefore “she can have more family options.”

Our findings are consistent with “maternity punishment,” a type of labor market discrimination that stereotypes mothers as the primary caregivers when it comes to taking on competing work and family demands—and an assumption that isn’t as easily applicable fathers It was disturbing to see that study participants assumed that sufficiently qualified women were not committed to their careers, even though the CVs did not contain information on whether the candidates had children or not.

Women may be more likely than men to apply for positions for which they are overqualified, but there is no answer as to how to rate them after they apply. Companies should establish a formal process for evaluating overqualified candidates who are not typical applicants. Checklist procedures, such as those used by surgeons and pilots, standardize decision-making processes and thereby reduce errors. Following a checklist to evaluate overqualified candidates would prompt people to reconsider their (possibly inaccurate) assumptions about overqualified men and women before they are rejected or promoted in the hiring process. For example, a checklist can prompt people to clarify if candidates know they are overqualified. If so, are there compelling reasons to apply anyway? If not, are there other positions in the company that better suit your qualifications?

Systems-based changes, even simple ones, are more effective in reducing inequalities than anti-bias awareness training alone, which is short-lived unless linked to actionable strategies for people to change behavior. Organizational programs that focus solely on raising awareness of gender bias are all flashlight and without substance if not coupled with meaningful policy changes.

It’s true that this means more work for people making hiring decisions, and companies should reward these team members accordingly. It comes down to how serious leaders are about reducing inequality in their workplace. So companies need to consider whether their efforts are pure merit or are they aimed at providing equal career opportunities for men and women?

Elizabeth L. Campbell is a Associate Professor of Management at the Rady School of Management, UC San Diego. Campbell’s research examines gender inequality in career advancement. Bias separation between women and men in terms of professional qualification level


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