Congruence Between Leadership Gender and Organizational Claims Affects the Gender Composition of the Applicant Pool: Field Experimental Evidence

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The extent to which men and women sort into different jobs and organizations—namely, gender differences in supply-side labor market processes—is a key determinant of workplace gender composition. This study draws on theories of congruence to uncover a unique organization-level driver of gender differences in job seekers’ behavior. We first argue and show that congruence between leadership gender and organizational claims is a key mechanism that drives job seekers’ interest. Specifically, many organizational claims are gender-typed, such that social claims activate the female stereotype, whereas business claims activate the male stereotype. Thus, whereas female-led organizations making social claims are gender-congruent, male-led firms making the same claims are gender-incongruent. Beyond demonstrating a general preference among job seekers for congruence, we also find that female job seekers are most interested in working for organizations that are simultaneously congruent and provide credible signals that they are fair and equitable employers. The congruence of leadership gender and organizational claims thus affects the gender composition of applicant pools for otherwise identical jobs.

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