Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Women face barriers to advancement in male-dominated fields (Glass Ceiling) and in female-dominated fields (Glass Escalator). More research is needed to elucidate the causes of these barriers in order to reduce the negative effects on women’s advancement. This study attempted to broaden the literature through the experimental examination of the glass escalator to further understand the gender inequalities that are seen in female-dominated fields. It employed a factorial design to examine the impact of gender, gender make up of an occupation, and level of authority within that occupation on a supervisor’s evaluation of an employee and decision to offer promotion, mentoring, and increase income and vacation time. Participants were recruited from Amazon Mechanical Turk and were just over half women, predominantly White and heterosexual, had a bachelor’s degree or higher, currently engaged in full-time employment, and half indicated their household income to be between $25,000 and $74,999. Each participant was presented with a single vignette of an employee file who was eligible for a promotion from a female-dominated (nurse), male-dominated (engineer), or gender neutral (accountant) occupation. They evaluated the employee’s performance and made recommendations for promotion, increasing raise and vacation days, and offered mentoring. Participants also completed the Gender Attitude Inventory (GAI; Ashmore, Del Boca, & Bilder, 1995) to better understand the role that gender attitudes play in gender bias in promotion decision-making. Multiple analysis of covariance was utilized to examine main effects and interaction effects of target employee gender, gender-type of occupation, and level of authority of the occupation. Hypotheses that men will be more likely to be promoted into positions with more authority, and women will be viewed as most competent in positions that are female-typed with the least amount of authority were not supported. Results showed that gender attitudes were weakly related to an employee’s performance evaluation, raise, and mentoring. Significant differences were found on the GAI where participants identifying as women, gay, and with a graduate degree had more liberal gender attitudes. Possible explanations for the predominantly insignificant results and future directions are discussed. Suggestions are provided for increasing the strength of the manipulation and factors that possibly decreased the salience of gender. Future experimental and continued qualitative studies in applied settings are recommended to identify causal influences of the glass escalator that examine factors of race, SES, and sexual orientation.
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