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Devaluation and Valuation in the Labor Market


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Principal Investigator(s):

Tamar Kricheli Katz
Tel Aviv University
Email: tamarkk@post.tau.ac.il
Home page: http://www2.tau.ac.il/Person/law/researcher.asp?id=aefflgedd

Sample size: 550
Field period: 11/3/2010-2/11/2011


Abstract:

Has the increased entrance of women into high-status occupations affected
the hiring, income and perceived competence of all women? On the one hand, explanations derived from the literature about status and revaluation suggest that because people tend to attribute the status of occupations to the people who work in them, when high-status occupations become predominantly female, higher status is ascribed to the women who work in these occupations and as a result to all women. Different predictions seem to follow from the literature on identity and identity threat. These theories suggest that when high-status occupations become predominantly female, a threat arises for high occupational-status men. The threat leads these men to engage in practices that protect their identity and their social and economic privileges. In this paper, I explore the conflicting empirical predictions offered by two literatures. I present the results of a general population experiment conducted on a large, random, probability based sample of the U.S. population. The experiment was designed to explore the hiring, income and perceived competence of all women, when high-status occupations become predominantly female. I find little evidence for the hypotheses derived from the literature about status and revaluation. Rather, there is evidence of identity threat.

Hypotheses:

Has the increased entrance of women into high-status occupations affected
the hiring, income and perceived competence of all women?

Experimental Manipulations:

In an Internet-based experiment, I began by manipulating the beliefs of the participants with regard to the gender composition of a high-status occupation, management consulting. Approximately half of the participants were informed that women constituted only 25% of consultants (the ‘predominantly male’ condition), and the other half of the participants were informed that women constituted 55% of the occupation (the ‘predominantly female’ condition). It was clear by the description of the occupation that it was a high-status occupation. Participants were then asked to answer a list of questions regarding the occupation and its characteristics. Subsequently, I asked the participants to examine the application materials that were submitted by a female job applicant for a managerial position at a high-tech company. The participants were then instructed to evaluate the competence of the applicant, to recommend whether she should be hired and to propose a starting salary for her (regardless of the hiring decision of the participants with respect to this applicant).

Key Dependent Variables:

The participants were then instructed to evaluate the competence of the applicant, to recommend whether she should be hired and to propose a starting salary for her (regardless of the hiring decision of the participants with respect to this applicant).

Summary of Findings:

The results provide only little evidence for the occurrence of revaluation. Rather, the results strongly support the identity threat hypotheses. For all three dependent variables, the interaction of interest is significant and is in the direction predicted by the identity threat theory.


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