From Metaphors to Mechanisms: Gender Sorting in(to) an Organizational Hierarchy
Author(s)Fernandez, Roberto; Abraham, Mabel Lana Botelho
From Metaphors to Mechanisms: Gender Sorting Into an Organizational Hierarchy
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Numerous studies have examined patterns of gender in equality in organizational advancement, with some showing results indicative of “glass ceilings,” where gender disparities are strong at the upper reaches of the organization, while others suggest “sticky floors,” where the gender differences in advancement occur at the lower levels of the organization. These studies, however, have been less clear on the mechanisms that produce these descriptive patterns. With few exceptions, extant studies have focused on internal promotion practices and have not addressed the extent to which these patterns might reflect gender differences in external recruitment and hiring into the organization. We construct queues consisting of both external and internal candidates—the set of candidates under consideration—for over 2,200 job openings during a 27-month period for a large retail bank. We find that women are more likely than men to be hired, and that this pattern holds for jobs up and down the organizational hierarchy. The applicant pools are themselves gendered, however, with women comprising a lower percentage of the applicant pools for high-level jobs, but a greater proportion of the pools for lower-level jobs. Since women are more likely than men to advance from each applicant pool to hire at all levels of the hierarchy, the apparent “glass ceiling” observed among job incumbents is not due to gendered screening practices. Instead, the roots of gender inequality in this firm lie in the initial sorting of applicants into queues.
DepartmentSloan School of Management
Proceedings of the ASA 2010 Annual Meeting
American Sociological Association
Fernandez, Roberto M. and Mabel Botelho Abraham. "From Metaphors to Mechanisms: Gender Sorting in(to) an Organizational Hierarchy." ASA 2010 105th Annual Meeting, Aug. 14-17, Atlanta, GA, USA.
MIT Sloan School Working Paper 4779-10