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New Evidence on Gender Difference in Promotion Rates: An Empirical Analysis of a Sample of New Hires

  • Francine D. Blau
  • Jed DeVaro

Using a large sample of establishments drawn from the Multi-City Study of Urban Inequality (MCSUI) employer survey, we study gender differences in promotion rates and in the wage gains attached to promotions. Several unique features of our data distinguish our analysis from the previous literature on this topic. First, we have information on the wage increases attached to promotions, and relatively few studies on gender differences have considered promotions and wage increases together. Second, our data include job-specific worker performance ratings, allowing us to control for performance and ability more precisely than through commonly-used skill indicators such as educational attainment or tenure. Third, in addition to standard information on occupation and industry, we have data on a number of other firm characteristics, enabling us to control for these variables while still relying on a broad, representative sample, as opposed to a single firm or a similarly narrowly-defined population. Our results indicate that women have lower probabilities of promotion and expected promotion than do men but that there is essentially no gender difference in wage growth with or without promotions.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12321.

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Date of creation: Jun 2006
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Blau, Francine D. and Jed DeVaro. “New Evidence on Gender Differences in Promotion Rates: An Empirical Analysis of a Sample of New Hires." Industrial Relations (July 2007).
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12321
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  1. Jed Devaro & Dana Brookshire, 2007. "Promotions and Incentives in Nonprofit and for-Profit Organizations," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 60(3), pages 311-339, April.
  2. Booth, Alison L. & Francesconi, Marco & Frank, Jeff, 2003. "A sticky floors model of promotion, pay, and gender," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 295-322, April.
  3. Pekkarinen, Tuomas & Vartiainen, Juhana, 2002. "Gender Differences in Job Assignment and Promotion in a Complexity Ladder of Jobs," Working Paper Series 184, Trade Union Institute for Economic Research.
  4. Meyer, Margaret A, 1991. "Learning from Coarse Information: Biased Contests and Career Profiles," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(1), pages 15-41, January.
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  6. Daniel Immergluck, 1996. "What employers want: Job prospects for less-educated workers," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer, vol. 24(4), pages 135-143, June.
  7. Winter-Ebmer, Rudolf & Zweimuller, Josef, 1997. "Unequal Assignment and Unequal Promotion in Job Ladders," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages 43-71, January.
  8. Pablo Acosta, 2004. "Promotions, State Dependence and Intrafirm Job Mobility: Evidence From Personnel Records," Econometric Society 2004 North American Summer Meetings 585, Econometric Society.
  9. Laura Giuliano & David I. Levine & Jonathon Leonard, 2006. "An Analysis of Quits, Dismissals, and Promotions at a Large Retail Firm," Working Papers 0721, University of Miami, Department of Economics.
  10. Craig A. Olson & Brian E. Becker, 1983. "Sex discrimination in the promotion process," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 36(4), pages 624-641, July.
  11. Stephen J. Spurr, 1990. "Sex discrimination in the legal profession: A study of promotion," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 43(4), pages 406-417, April.
  12. Cobb-Clark, Deborah A., 2001. "Getting Ahead: The Determinants of and Payoffs to Internal Promotion for Young U.S. Men and Women," IZA Discussion Papers 288, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  13. Ransom, Michael R. & Oaxaca, Ronald L., 2003. "Intrafirm Mobility and Sex Differences in Pay," IZA Discussion Papers 704, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  14. McCue, Kristin, 1996. "Promotions and Wage Growth," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(2), pages 175-209, April.
  15. Bernhardt, Dan, 1995. "Strategic Promotion and Compensation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(2), pages 315-39, April.
  16. 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 S106-23, January.
  17. Oaxaca, Ronald, 1973. "Male-Female Wage Differentials in Urban Labor Markets," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 14(3), pages 693-709, October.
  18. Phelps, Edmund S, 1972. "The Statistical Theory of Racism and Sexism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(4), pages 659-61, September.
  19. Gregory B. Lewis, 1986. "Gender and Promotions: Promotion Chances of White Men and Women in Federal White-Collar Employment," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 21(3), pages 406-419.
  20. Cabral, Robert & Ferber, Marianne A & Green, Carole A, 1981. "Men and Women in Fiduciary Institutions: A Study of Sex Differences in Career Development," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 63(4), pages 573-80, November.
  21. Deborah Cobb-Clark, 2001. "Getting Ahead: The Determinants of Payoffs to Internal Promotion for Young U.S. Men and Women," CEPR Discussion Papers 430, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  22. 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 S33-58, January.
  23. Kathy Cannings, 1988. "Managerial promotion: The effects of socialization, specialization, and gender," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 42(1), pages 77-88, October.
  24. Prendergast, Canice, 1992. "Career development and specific human capital collection," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 207-227, September.
  25. Randall W. Eberts & Joe A. Stone, 1985. "Male-Female Differences in Promotions: EEO in Public Education," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 20(4), pages 504-521.
  26. Barbara F. Reskin & Denise D. Bielby, 2005. "A Sociological Perspective on Gender and Career Outcomes," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(1), pages 71-86, Winter.
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