Academic Literature

Gender Gap – Entrenched through candidates long-term expectations and assumptions

Roxana Barbulescu and Matthew Bidwell examine differences in the jobs for which men and women apply in order to better understand gender segregation in managerial jobs in Do Women Choose Different Jobs from Men? Mechanisms of Application Segregation in the Market for Managerial Workers on

The authors develop and test an integrative theory of why women might apply to different jobst han men. they note that constraints based on gender role socialization may affect three determinants of job applications:

  1. how individuals evaluate the rewards provided by different jobs,
  2. whether they identify with those jobs, and
  3. whether they believe that their applications will be successful.

They then develop hypotheses about the role of each of these decision factors in mediating gender differences in job applications.

The authors test these hypotheses using the first direct comparison of how similarly qualified men and women apply to jobs, based on data on the job searches of MBA students.


The results indicate that women are less likely than men to apply to finance and consulting jobs and are more likely to apply to general management positions. These differences are partly explained by women’s preference for jobs with better anticipated work–life balance, their lower identification with stereotypically masculine jobs, and their lower expectations of job offer success in such stereotypically masculine jobs.

They authors find no evidence that women are less likely to receive job offers in any of the fields studied. These results point to some of the ways in which gender differences can become entrenched through the long-term expectations and assumptions that job candidates carry with them into the application process.

‘These results are all the more surprising given the nature of our study sample’ write the authors. ‘The women in our sample were more likely to have previously worked in finance than were the men, but they were on average less likely to identify with finance jobs or expect to get an offer in them. All of the individuals in our sample had also selected into the highly masculine environment of a competitive MBA program. However, we still saw substantial differences in how men and women responded to
specific job rewards, identified with different jobs, and expected to receive offers in those jobs.’

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Do Women Choose Different Jobs from Men? Mechanisms of Application Segregation in the Market for Managerial Workers

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