Women and men are more likely to hire men for math-based jobs

March 14, 2014


Gender inequality is latent according to a new study

A new study reveals why women are still having difficulty in the technology industry: both men and women are twice as likely to hire a man for a math-based job. Women outnumber men in undergraduate enrollments, but they are much less likely than men to major in mathematics or science, or to choose a profession in these fields.

This study states that for the most part, it can be attributed, to the effects of negative gender-based stereotypes.

Ernesto Reuben, Paola Sapienza, and Luigi Zingales studied the effects of these stereotypes in an experimental market, whereby subjects were asked to hire a candidate to perform an arithmetic task. While performing this task, on average, both genders performed equally. No information regarding the candidates’ abilities was provided and all information about a candidate’s physical appearance was withheld, insuring gender could not be made clear; and still both men and women were twice as likely to hire a man over a woman.

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Throw in some new information? No new results

The discrimination is reduced, but not eliminated, by providing full information about previous performance on the task. “When employers received objective information about candidates’ past performance, female candidates still were chosen significantly less often than male candidates (females were chosen 39.1% of the time), but the difference was smaller than in the ‘no information’ condition (in which females were chosen 33.9% of the time,” explains the team.

By using the Implicit Association Test, the scientists show implicit stereotypes are responsible for the initial bias in gender-related beliefs and again for a biased based on self-reported performance. This basically means, employers demonstrating a bias against women are less likely to take into account the fact that men, on average, boast more than women about their future performance, leading to an uneven perception of hiring choices giving the hiring preference to men because they seem to be more competent since they are more open about their abilities, according to the study.

It is a little disheartening that females are still overlooked, even when they perform just as well on the tasks. I would be interested to see what effect it would have on the results if women were more openly boastful about their abilities and experience; would people perceive them to be as competent as man, or would they still choose a man for the task?

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Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

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