CIC Conference PresentationsTheme: Understanding Choices

Intro text here

Theme: Stereotypes and Fit

The burden of women’s appearance: How morality, competence, as well as attractiveness perceived from women’s faces affect their chances of getting a job

Dr Michela Menegatti; Prof. Monica Rubini, University of Bologna

We investigated whether morality, competence, and attractiveness perceived from applicants’ faces affect their likelihood of being hired and whether these effects vary as a function of their gender. In two studies, participants were provided with a photo of a female or a male applicant attached to a brief CV. Applicants’ faces (Lundqvist et al., 1998) differed in the level of perceived trustworthiness and intelligence (Oosterof & Todorov, 2008), which are traits related to morality and competence respectively (Leach et al., 2007). In Study 1, respondents were asked to evaluate applicants on morality, competence, attractiveness, and to rate their likelihood of selection. Two moderated mediation analyses revealed that attractiveness mediated the effect of both morality and competence on selection decisions, but this was true only for female applicants. In Study 2, participants were instructed to rate the extent to which each applicant would behave in a competent and moral manner in his/her work, as well as his/her attractiveness and selection likelihood. While only competence had an impact on male applicants’ likelihood of being selected, hiring decisions about females were based on morality, competence, as well as attractiveness. Overall, these findings highlighted that women not only have to be (Moscatelli et al., 2018), but also to appear better than men on multiple judgment dimensions to be hired.

Women’s pursuit of leadership careers – Testing lack of fit theory for organizational recruitment

Tanja Hentschel, University of Amsterdam

Susanne Braun, Durham University

Claudia Peus, Technische Universität München

Dieter Frey, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München


In this paper, we followed calls for more research on recruitment strategies to increase gender diversity in leadership. We build on lack of fit theory (Heilman, 1983, 2012) and argue that women perceive a lower fit and are less likely to apply for career opportunities if recruitment advertisements accentuate agentic (rather than communal) characteristics little in line with women’s self-perceptions. In a pretest, we content-analyzed advertisements and found that advertisements for leadership (but not non-leadership) positions included significantly more agentic than communal characteristics. An experimental studies showed women (but not men) to evaluate advertisements that include agentic as opposed to communal characteristics more negatively (appeal, perceived fit) and to express lower application intentions. Further, only after reading an advertisement with agentic characteristics did women indicate lower ambitions to pursue a leadership career than men. Drawing on real-world advertisements, we confirmed that women rated advertisements perceived to be more (compared to less) agentic more negatively. This result corresponded with the percentage of women who had actually applied for the career opportunity in the past. Women’s perceived fit mediated the relationship between advertisement characteristics and application intentions. Our findings suggest that to recruit more women into leadership, organizations are advised to rely on communal rather than agentic characteristics in advertisements.

Predictors of employment decisions: A perfection bias against women?

Michela Menegatti, Silvia Moscatelli, & Monica Rubini, University of Bologna

Naomi Ellemers, Utrecht University

Research on gender bias has highlighted the role of gender stereotypes, organized around the dimensions of competence/agency and warmth/communality, in hindering women’s career in organization (Heilman, 2012). Drawing from a recent model of social judgment (Ellemers, Pagliaro, & Barreto, 2013), this research examined the importance of different evaluation dimensions – i.e., morality and sociability (distinct from the wider cluster of warmth) and competence – in selecting male and female candidates for one’s organization (Study 1) or work team (Study 2). We also examined the relative weight of competence and morality in predicting actual decisions to hire (Study 3) or retain (Study 4) male and female candidates with identical profiles. Results showed that competence was the most important dimension of evaluation and was the only predictor of employment decisions for male candidates. Multiple criteria were however important for female candidates. Moreover, decisions about female candidates were influenced by the dimension on which they appeared to be relatively weak. These findings reveal a “perfection bias” against women, who are held to higher standards than men on multiple dimensions, increasing their risk of being discarded compared to men as soon as they present a shortcoming on a certain dimension. Findings also suggest that introducing evaluations of moral character into personnel decisions is unlikely to help women make a career in organizations, and in fact poses an additional hurdle that women – but not men – are expected to overcome.

Linguistic Gender Bias in Personnel Selection: The Role of Competence, Morality and Sociability

Francesca Prati, Corine Stella Kana Kenfack, Monica Rubini, University of Bologna

This line of research investigated the spontaneous use of linguistic terms related to competence, morality and sociability in descriptions made by professional selectors evaluating female and male candidates for a high status job position. Specifically, it examined which criterion among the three main dimensions of social judgment would predict the selection of men and women candidates and how gender of selectors influences hiring decisions. Evidence showed that males were primarily selected or rejected on the basis of their competence. Conversely, females were selected on the basis of all the three evaluative dimensions. Interestingly, commitees composed of male and female selectors compared to committees formed by same gender selectors reduced the use of gender stereotypes in evaluating candidates of both genders. Overall, evidence reveals how female candidates are required to display a higher number of criteria to be selected compared to males and that adopting mixed gender selectors forms an effective stategy to reduce gender discrimination in personnell selection for high status positions.

Are women (vs. men) leaders more harshly punished when they do something wrong?

Ana C. Leite and Georgina Randsley de Moura, University of Kent

Women face obstacles in career progression and are likely appointed to precarious and risky positions. But what happens when they reach the top? Ingroup leaders are given transgression credit, but is this the case for women? In Study 1 participants recalled a situation in which a leader did something ethically questionable. Results showed that men were more tolerant of men (vs. women) leaders, more willing to work with them, and perceived them as better role models. Women did not differentiate between men and women leaders. This study suggests that there is a gender ingroup bias when people judge unethical leaders, but only from men. Furthermore, a moderated mediation model suggests that men perceived women (vs. men) unethical leaders as less communal and therefore judge them more negatively.

In Study 2 participants read about an unethical leader (woman or man) who was either described as communal or agentic. Results showed that men judged women leaders differently depending on their traits, so that communal women leaders were preferred to the less stereotypical, agentic women leaders. In contrast, women judged unethical leaders similarly irrespective of their gender or traits.

Overall, results suggest that men are less favourable towards women leaders (vs. men leaders) who do something unethical, to the extent that they are perceived to be counterstereotypical (less communal). When presented with communal (vs. agentic) women unethical leaders, men were more favourable towards them. This suggests that men expect women leaders to abide by the social norms and social roles more than men.



Theme: Understanding Choices

Theme: Responding to Context

Theme: Future Directions and Social Change