Gender Biases in Hiring Project Managers: Perceptions of Trust and Likeability

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Abstract

There have been numerous studies examining the effects of social role theory on negative stereotyping of female managers, including low perceived likeability and unwillingness by subordinates to trust them. These attributions are particularly relevant in the context of 'male-dominated' jobs, such as technical disciplines like engineering and project management. We investigated the specific setting of project manager job candidate selection, a professional discipline that has historically been male-dominated, but one that has seen a large rise in female project managers over the past decade. We examined the perceptions of respondents to differences in male and female job candidates based on the critical personal/managerial characteristics of trust and likeability. Using a scenario-based survey questionnaire, we sampled 312 project management personnel and tested subjects' reactions to two candidates for a project management position, employing identical descriptions and language while only changing the candidate's name: Susan or Stan. Our results suggested that, contrary to expectations, respondents' perceptions of the female candidate, Susan, were significantly higher across both managerial dimensions of likeability and trust. Implications of these findings and directions for future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7086310
Pages (from-to)325-334
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Transactions on Engineering Management
Volume62
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Strategy and Management
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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