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Anticipatory Sorting and Gender Segregation in Temporary Employment


  • Isabel Fernandez-Mateo

    () (London Business School, London NW1 4SA, United Kingdom)

  • Zella King

    () (Henley Business School, University of Reading, Reading RG6 6UD, United Kingdom)


We examine the roots of gender segregation in the screening process by using a longitudinal data set of candidates considered for temporary projects at a staffing firm and following their progress through the hiring pipeline. Theories invoked to explain gender segregation across jobs traditionally rely on firm-specific human capital and expectations of future commitment to explain this phenomenon. These do not apply in this setting. Yet we find that the staffing firm is more likely to shortlist women for low-paid projects and less likely to do so for high-paid ones. These effects are due to women being considered for different projects than men, and associated at least partially to the level of competition within vacancies. Although client companies also exhibit some gender-sorting behavior in the later steps of the hiring process, they are more likely to prefer women and less likely to sort them into lower-paid projects. Our findings are consistent with "anticipatory gender-sorting" mechanisms, by which first screeners generate segregation when narrowing down the pool of candidates for later decision makers. We discuss the implications of this case for theories of gender stratification and workplace inequality, especially in mediated labor markets. This paper was accepted by Jesper Sørensen, organizations.

Suggested Citation

  • Isabel Fernandez-Mateo & Zella King, 2011. "Anticipatory Sorting and Gender Segregation in Temporary Employment," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 57(6), pages 989-1008, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:57:y:2011:i:6:p:989-1008

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Petersen, Trond & Togstad, Thea, 2006. "Getting the Offer: Sex Discrimation in Hiring," Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Working Paper Series qt1rt913mg, Institute of Industrial Relations, UC Berkeley.
    2. Becker, Gary S, 1985. "Human Capital, Effort, and the Sexual Division of Labor," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(1), pages 33-58, January.
    3. Lazear, Edward P & Rosen, Sherwin, 1990. "Male-Female Wage Differentials in Job Ladders," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8(1), pages 106-123, January.
    4. Van de Ven, Wynand P. M. M. & Van Praag, Bernard M. S., 1981. "The demand for deductibles in private health insurance : A probit model with sample selection," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 229-252, November.
    5. Loprest, Pamela J, 1992. "Gender Differences in Wage Growth and Job Mobility," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(2), pages 526-532, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Chen, Zhihong & Ge, Ying & Lai, Huiwen & Wan, Chi, 2013. "Globalization and Gender Wage Inequality in China," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 256-266.
    2. Ashish Arora & Michelle Gittelman & Sarah Kaplan & John Lynch & Will Mitchell & Nicolaj Siggelkow & Cristian L. Dezső & David Gaddis Ross & Jose Uribe, 2016. "Is there an implicit quota on women in top management? A large-sample statistical analysis," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 37(1), pages 98-115, January.
    3. Al Ariss, Akram & Guo, Grace Chun, 2016. "Job allocations as cultural sorting in a culturally diverse organizational context," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 579-588.
    4. Lepori, B. & Seeber, M. & Bonaccorsi, A., 2015. "Competition for talent. Country and organizational-level effects in the internationalization of European higher education institutions," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 789-802.
    5. Ross H. Taplin, 2016. "Research involving limited dependent variables: issues in the literature and recommendations for improvement," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 50(5), pages 2121-2140, September.


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