COLUMBUS, Ohio – Stellar grades in college could hurt – rather than help – women new to the job market, according to a new study that suggests employers place more value on the perceived “likability” of female applicants than on their academic success.
Male applicants with high grade point averages were twice as likely to be contacted by employers as women with the same grades and comparable experience and educational background in a study from The Ohio State University.
The picture was even worse for women who majored in math. Male math majors who excelled in school were called back by employers three times as often as their women counterparts.
Furthermore, a survey of 261 hiring managers found that while employers value competence and commitment among men applicants, they are prone to gravitate toward women applicants who are perceived as likable – those who did fine, but did not excel, academically. This helps women who are moderate achievers and are often described as sociable and outgoing, but hurts high-achieving women, who are met with more skepticism, the study found.
“We like to think that we’ve progressed past gender inequality, but it’s still there. The study suggests that women who didn’t spend a lot of time on academics but are ‘intelligent enough’ have an advantage over women who excel in school,” said researcher Natasha Quadlin, an assistant professor of sociology at Ohio State. Her study will appear in the April edition of the journal American Sociological Review.
“There’s a particularly strong bias against female math majors—women who flourish in male-dominated fields—perhaps because they’re violating gender norms in terms of what they’re supposed to be good at.”
The 2,106 job seekers in the study weren’t actual people – they were invented for purposes of the research, but the employers advertising for entry-level positions didn’t know that. Each “applicant” had a corresponding email address and phone number.
Read more at Ohio State University