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Do Male Bosses Underestimate their Female Subordinates' Skills? A Comparison of Employees' and Line Managers' Perceptions of Job Skills

Listed author(s):
  • Francis Green


  • Donna James

Employees and their line managers may have different perceptions of the skills used in jobs. We carried out a survey aimed at explaining such differences, in respect of verbal, physical, problem-solving and planning skills, the qualifications required to get the job, and indicators of the autonomy involved in the job. First, for most of our skills indices, there is a reasonably good match between the perceptions of the line manager and those of the employee. But in the case of the contested skills associated with autonomy there is little agreement. Second, for most skills, there is a small 'perceptions bias', in the sense that employees rate the skills needed for the job at a slightly higher level, on average, than their line managers. Third, the gender relation of the employee and line manager plays a significant role in determining the skills bias. Consistent with the hypothesis that skills are socially constructed, when the boss is male and the worker female there is a tendency for the boss to underestimate and/or the worker to over-estimate their skill level, by comparison with other gender combinations.

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Paper provided by School of Economics, University of Kent in its series Studies in Economics with number 0107.

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Date of creation: Mar 2001
Handle: RePEc:ukc:ukcedp:0107
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  1. Francis Green, 1998. "The Value of Skills," Studies in Economics 9819, School of Economics, University of Kent.
  2. Francis Green & Alan Felstead & Duncan Gallie, 2003. "Computers and the changing skill-intensity of jobs," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(14), pages 1561-1576.
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