Men and women are subject to gender discrimination while submitting job applications

Job Fair in Al Rai District. Visitors can use the racing simulator at the software company Oracle.Photo by Marcel van den Bergh / De Volkskrant

In a hypothetical career-only group of men, researchers wrote in an analysis Friday, the applicant was 3 percentage points less likely than a man with a similar resume. in the journal Science advances. But in women-only occupational groups, women lead by 5 percentage points.

The fact that both men and women can be discriminated against during a job interview doesn’t make the problem any smaller, says sociologist Diana Gallus of Aarhus University in Denmark, one of the article’s authors. “It’s about denying people the opportunity to work, just on the basis of their gender.”

The new research combined the results of 57 previous studies on gender discrimination. In those earlier studies, researchers sent out mock resumes in which they randomly assigned the gender of the “applicants.” Other traits were the same between men and women. Then they tracked the candidates who were called by the employer or invited for an interview.


For the first time, the researchers looked systematically at the percentage of men and women in each occupational group. They felt that this had a significant impact on discrimination against women or men.

“A compelling and powerful study,” said Flor Rink, a professor of organizational behavior at the University of Groningen who was not involved in the study. According to her, the conclusions are in line with the prevailing opinion in science. “Selection procedures are subjective, so a person’s gender is often (unconsciously) factored into the decision.”

The researchers write that the consequences of discrimination at the gate are often greater for women than for men. Just take all the pay. Occupations with many male employees, such as technicians and software developers, pay better wages on average than jobs with many women, such as teachers and healthcare workers.

Hence men are also over-represented in senior positions, so that women have less chances of promotion due to gender discrimination. “The advancement of women to higher positions is like a leaky pipeline: Women drop out or they get caught,” Rink says. Incidentally, Gallus and her colleague did not investigate this glass ceiling in this study.


Although the composition of an occupational group is a good predictor of gender discrimination, it is not necessarily the cause. According to Rink, gender discrimination arises from basic stereotypes. “Society sees women as social and cooperative and men as independent and objective,” she says.

As a result, women are overrepresented in professions where social assets are important, for example. When employers search for applicants, they subconsciously prefer people who are portrayed as more social: women.

You can use this knowledge to combat gender discrimination in the future. “As soon as the work environment becomes more diverse, people get the signal: objectivity and independence as well as social behavior and cooperation are required here,” says Rink. But in the end we have to learn not to rely on stereotypes. Both men and women can be cooperative and objective.

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Megan Vasquez

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