Anticipatory Sorting and Gender Segregation in Temporary Employment
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.
Volume (Year): 57 (2011)
Issue (Month): 6 (June)
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