Employers more likely to assign credit to men in group work: 5 study findings


Employers are more likely to give men credit for group work if they can't directly determine each individual's contribution, a pattern that may create or further gender segregation in some jobs, according to a study cited by the Chicago Booth Review. 

In an unpublished June 4 paper, four researchers examined papers by academic economists, a career with a large tenure gap between men and women and a growing amount of group work. The study analyzed the number of papers by economists up for tenure between 1985 and 2014 at 23 PhD-granting universities in the U.S. They focused on schools where research was the greatest factor in promotions. For more on methodology, click here

Five study findings:

1. All else being equal, men and women who solo authored most work had similar tenure rates. 

2. Men were tenured similarly regardless of whether they co-authored or solo authored, while women were less likely to receive tenure the more they co-authored.

3. Each additional piece of co-authored research was tied to a 7.4 percent increase in tenure probability for men but only a 4.7 percent increase for women. The difference explains 40 percent of the gender gap in tenure rates, according to the researchers.  

4. The gender gap narrowed significantly for women when all the co-authors were also women, but that doesn't mean it's better for female economists to write papers alone or only with other women, said Heather Sarsons, PhD, study author and assistant professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Women are largely outnumbered in economics, and there are relatively few papers co-authored only by women. 

5. All employers, not just those in economic occupations, need to determine if they hold different people to different standards and should develop better systems to establish who did what in group work, said Dr. Sarsons.

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