Research

In my research, I study the bases of gender inequality, drawing from scholarly literature in economic and organizational sociology, social networks, and entrepreneurship. My goal is to understand how organizational and social network processes impact economic outcomes and perpetuate gender inequality. My dissertation examines how evaluators and decision makers directly contribute to the perpetuation of gender inequality in economic outcomes. I pay particular attention to the often levied criticism of gender inequality research, namely failure to adequately account for quality or performance. A theme across my papers is to account for potential gender differences in quality in each of my empirical settings. I use field-based data, and employ both econometric and qualitative research methods, to examine the allocation of resources within organizations and social networks and identify the factors contributing to persistent gender inequality among organizational actors and entrepreneurs.

To date, my research has resulted in numerous academic presentations; a second invitation from the Academy of Management Journal to revise and resubmit a solely-authored paper; an invitation to revise and resubmit a co-authored paper from Administrative Science Quarterly; and a number of working papers including my job market paper. Most recently, I was selected as the winner of the 2014 INFORMS/Organization Science Dissertation Proposal Competition. My work has also been recognized and funded by the Kauffman Foundation and the American Association of University Women and featured by a number of popular media outlets including Forbes the Society for Human Resource Management.

Current Research

Men and women in social network map - illustration

Explaining unequal returns to social capital among entrepreneurs

Winner 2015 Louis R. Pondy Best Dissertation Paper, OMT Division of the Academy of Management

Do men and women generate the same benefits from using their social ties? This study addresses this question by examining how resources are allocated within social networks. Prior research has commonly attributed observed gender differences in network benefits to the tendency for women to be embedded in networks that are poorer in social and economic resources. Implicit in this explanation is that if women had access to more valuable networks they would receive similar benefits as do men. It remains unclear, however, whether men and women with the same opportunity to access resources through social ties generate equal benefits.

Using hand-collected data from organized business networks where entrepreneurs exchange information about potential new clients, this study leverages a unique opportunity to compare men and women with access to the same social capital. In this setting there are two types of potential new clients: other members in the group and the external contacts of other members. I find that women receive fewer connections to potential clients, but only in the form of the latter. These results suggest a new network mechanism for gender inequality — anticipatory audience bias — where expectations that a client, friend, or family member has a preference for men over women motivates actors to disproportionately favor men.

This study is partially funded by the generous support of the Kauffman Foundation and the American Association of University Women.

3d statistics on laptop

Pursuing Quality: How Uncertainty Magnifies Double Standards in a Multistage Evaluation Process

Forthcoming, Administrative Science Quarterly

This study, co-authored with Tristan Botelho, examines the role of gender across two stages of evaluation in a market setting. The process of evaluation is commonly a two-stage process where candidates are first screened to select the subset that will be given further consideration and then members of this reduced set are evaluated more closely to identify the best candidates. While numerous lab studies have found evidence that women are held to a higher standard than are men in evaluation, the extent to which double standards persist across these stages remains unclear.

Using data from an online platform where investment professionals share investment recommendations, we deepen our understanding of the role of double standards in perpetuating gender inequality through evaluations. We find that while women receive less attention relative to similarly performing male counterparts in the initial selection stage, there is no further bias in subsequent evaluation stages. Furthermore, we find that this gender difference only exists during periods where evaluators are faced with a high volume of investment recommendations. Our findings provide support for the importance of search costs in the propensity for evaluators to invoke gender in assessing candidates.

Woman power

The importance of female managerial discretion for closing the gender pay gap

Forthcoming, Academy of Management Journal

Drawing on theories of managerial discretion and bureaucracy, this study moves beyond the question of whether female managers reduce pay inequality to examine when and how female managers have an impact on wages for the employees they oversee. While research on management demography has largely established the moderating role of the gender composition of management for pay inequality, questions remain. Specifically, it is unclear whether there are boundary conditions to when female managers will reduce gender pay inequality.

Among employees in 120 retail branches of a financial services firm, I find evidence of less gender pay inequality for employees reporting to a female manager, but only in the areas where female managers had discretion over employee pay. Furthermore, I find when female managers have the discretion to influence subordinate pay, they follow norms of egalitarianism to reduce gender pay inequality by both paying female subordinates more and paying male subordinates less than do male managers. These findings demonstrate that it is critical to take managerial discretion into account when assessing the expected impact of female managers on employee pay.

This research has been featured by a number of media outlets including Forbes, the Society for Human Resource Management, and The Globe and Mail.