Th-SYM-2009-4 - It's A Man's Work - Career Effects Of Gender-Biased Task Allocation Decisions

Diversity in the workplace
1 hour
Human resource management
Diversity in the workplace
It’s a man’s work - Career effects of gender-biased task allocation decisions
T. Hentschel 1,*, M. Heilman 2, P. Lichtenthaler, A. Fischbach
1TU Munich, Munich, Germany, 2New York University, New York, United States
Main Abstract Content: Purpose Organizations try to avoid bias against women in hiring decisions through structuring decision-making procedures. But preventing bias at any one point in time does not assure a bias-free decision. In this study we look at how the initial allocation of work tasks consistent with gender stereotypes can lead to different career consequences for men and women.
Design/Methodology: Study 1 (N = 56) employed a within-subject design to test whether women and men would be more or less likely to be allocated to tasks requiring agency (e.g., analytical skill) or communality (e.g., people-orientation). Study 2 (N = 125) employed a between-subjects design to test whether having prior work experience on tasks requiring agency and communality affected hiring recommendations for a management trainee position.
Results: Study 1 showed that women were less likely than men to be allocated to tasks requiring agency and more likely to be allocated to tasks requiring communality. Study 2 showed that both men and women who had worked on tasks requiring agency (versus communality) were more likely to be hired.
Limitations: Studies were conducted with student samples. Though stereotypes are shared by members of a culture, a field study could corroborate these findings.
Research/Practical Implications: Unintended early bias in task allocation decisions can have insidious effects on later career decisions.
Originality/Value: Research on gender stereotypes has often focused on bias in the here-and-now. We showed that even when there is no bias in the present, residual bias from earlier employment decisions can limit women’s career progress.

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