Study Shows Our Job Market Actually Punishes Women With Great Grades in College

In a study titled "Punishing Women for Being Smart," the website Inside Higher Ed showed that women with higher grades in college aren't given the same level of preference, responses and attention that their male peers get. The gender disparity is most evident in interview calls, according to the study, as male graduates received offers to discuss job opportunities two times more than female graduates.


The lead researcher, assistant professor of sociology Natasha Quadlin of Ohio State University, conducted an audit study in which she sent 2,106 job applications for different roles. According to Inside Higher Ed, Quadlin created a differentiated pool of applicants based on their gender, grades and the majors they studied in college.

Quadlin found out several things. For one, male graduates' grades were not as consequential in scoring job market attention as she expected them to be. Secondly, women applicants seemed to be punished for having impressive graduate grades. In fact, she noted that women stood more of a chance to hear back from job interviews if they had "moderate" grades. Furthermore, she noticed that while men were judged on the basis of functionality like dedication to the job role and metrics like efficiency, women applicants were gauged on more sociological criteria like "perceived likeability."

Countless studies have confirmed that women tend to face much more emotionally taxing and less financially rewarding conditions in various professional fields. Research shows that women are expected to wear makeup in order to look “competent.” Academic research shows that female professors are expected to field special requests from “entitled” students and carry more workload compared to their male peers. A study on open-source project applications showed that women’s acceptance rate only goes up if they are not identifiable as female.

Plus there’s that bit about how Silicon Valley is notorious for neglecting women applicants when they apply for jobs in the industry. And to top it off, some male colleagues dismiss women as “hysterical" or intimidating for doing their jobs.

The stereotypes revealed in Quadlin's study are distressing, but they confirm the popular suspicion that the job market is still very much skewed in favor of men. But for human resource departments and recruiters, Quadlin’s audit offers a chance to fix things. Job recruiters now have a research-based opportunity to identify, and more importantly, rectify any existing negligence performed by interviewers.

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