Do women have fewer opportunities to be hired?

M. José González, Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Clara Cortina, Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Jorge Rodríguez, Universitat Pompeu Fabra

An experiment in gender discrimination in the jobs market shows that women aged between 37 and 39 years have an average of 30% fewer possibilities of being invited to a job interview than men with the same characteristics. Gender discrimination is greater when the applicants have children, and declines, although it never completely disappears, when they are better qualified for the job in question.
Key points
  • 1
       Over 5,600 fictitious CVs were sent to real job offers in Madrid and Barcelona. Subsequently, the probabilities of being invited to a job interview were compared between people with equivalent CVs that were only differentiated in terms of their gender, whether they had children or not and their degree of qualification for the position applied for.
  • 2
       Under equal conditions, women had an average of 30% fewer probabilities of being invited to a job interview than men with the same profile.
  • 3
       Gender differences in the recruitment process are greater when the applicants have children, although they decline, without completely disappearing, when they are better qualified for the position applied for.

To understand across all their complexity the effects of gender, number of children, and qualification for the post on the probability of being invited to a job interview, the following figure presents the response rates for different subgroups. Gender differences are maintained in all cases, although they are much smaller in the subgroup of applicants without children and with a high level of qualification. In this subgroup, and despite the equality in the curriculum of the two genders, women have a slightly lower probability of being invited to an interview (12.4%) than men (13.6%). In fact, in this subgroup the differences between men and women are very small and are not statistically significant. 

Probability of being invited to a job interview by sex, number of children and qualification for the post
Probability of being invited to a job interview by sex, number of children and qualification for the post

Prejudices or stereotypes?

When women applicants have a high level of qualification for the post and do not have children, differences with respect to men with the same level of qualification practically disappear. This circumstance enables the conclusion that gender discrimination in job recruitment processes is not explained as much by negative prejudices towards women in general, but rather by gender stereotypes, according to which women are usually seen as less committed to paid employment and more oriented towards the family.

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M. José González , Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Clara Cortina , Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Jorge Rodríguez , Universitat Pompeu Fabra

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