The role of task allocation for gender differences in early-career progress among MBA-graduates

The role of task allocation for gender differences in early-career progress among MBA-graduates



Starting date: 01.08.2019

Duration: 3 years

  • Project summary

    Project summary

    Despite large convergences in education and labor market experience, we still see a substantial gender gap both in terms of career achievement and wages as well as underrepresentation in high-income occupations and top management positions. Moreover, in these high- level positions the convergence has not only been slower, but also has subsided in the last few years.
    Findings in the literature strongly suggest that early career dynamics are important for the entire career. Hence, it is important to understand differences across gender in this early part of the career. It is also documented that the majority of the current earnings gap comes from within occupation differences in earnings, rather than from between occupation differences. Hence, gender differences in career development within each occupation is far more important than which occupation females choose after graduation.
    Recent research by Babcock, Recalde, Vesterlund and Weingart (AER, 2017) study the allocation of so-called non-promotable tasks, as compared to promotable tasks, between men and women in the workplace in a lab setting. Non-promotable tasks benefit the organization but are not likely to contribute to someone’s performance evaluation and career advancement, as opposed to promotable tasks on the other hand. Their study show that, even in the absence of differences in ability or preferences for these tasks, women end up spending relatively more time than men on non-promotable tasks and less time on promotable tasks. Clearly, this may have an impact on women’s later careers and may help explain why women continue to progress more slowly than men do.
    Primary objectives:
    • The project aims to improve our understanding of gender differences in task allocations in firms and document consequences for early career development.
    • We will push the research frontier by using a multi-method approach that combines population-wide register data with data collected from laboratory experiments and surveys. In particular, the registry data provide detailed information on two important domains: educational background such as grades and detailed information on courses chosen in college and universities as well as detailed information on the first job. Laboratory experiments and surveys, on the other hand, can provide new understandings of the underlying mechanisms behind the gender gaps.
    • We will elicit individual-level information on career aspirations, beliefs, preferences and psychological attributes as well as task acceptance and allocation for a few cohorts of graduates from the Master program at NHH.

Core research team


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