Research indicates gender disparity in academia


image: UNC Charlotte assistant professor of sociology
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Credit: UNC Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, NC – February 3, 2021 – New research on gender inequality indicates that fewer leadership perspectives in the workplace apply even to women who show the most promise early in their college careers .

Jill Yavorsky, Assistant Professor of Sociology at UNC Charlotte, co-led the study “The Underutilization of Women’s Talent: Academic Achievements and Future Leadership Positions” with Yue Qian, Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University. of British Columbia. .

In their article, published in a leading social science journal, Social forces, Social scientists have found that men supervise more people in the workplace than women, regardless of their high school grade point average (GPA). This leadership deficit observed in the early and mid-career of individuals was particularly pronounced for those who became parents.

For those with a 4.0 GPA in high school, fathers manage more than four times the number of supervisees than mothers (19 for men versus four for women).

Additionally, having a higher GPA is strongly associated with managing more people later in their careers, but this is largely only true for fathers. As the high school GPA increases from 0.0 to 4.0, the average number of supervised increases from 4 to 19 for fathers, but barely changes for mothers (from 3 to 4).

What is perhaps even more striking is that fathers with very low academic performance (1.0 GPA), on average, have similar leadership prospects to women who graduated high school with 4. , 0 MPC.

“Our research clearly illustrates the barriers that exist for women, especially mothers, in the workplace,” Yavorsky said. “At the same time, given that even men with low scores get higher leadership roles than women, this study perhaps highlights the lack of barriers men face in achieving higher grades. leadership opportunities. “

The researchers also examined why this large disparity has arisen between mothers and fathers. They found that part of the leadership gap by surrogacy is due to the fact that high-performing fathers benefit significantly from a college degree or higher, unlike comparable mothers. Indeed, the leadership opportunities of mothers who have a college degree or above are similar to those of mothers who do not have a college degree.

The authors explain in their article that men may benefit more from a college degree than women because men choose or are referred to majors that may offer more leadership opportunities, such as finance or STEM.

Yavorsky also notes: “Based on other research, we know that even when men and women are in the same field, including female-dominated jobs, men still tend to have higher leadership prospects. than women. This suggests that the disparity is not just due to the fact that men and women choose different career paths. On the contrary, men benefit from their leadership opportunities, whatever path they choose. “

In addition, the study found that among the top performers, men had higher leadership prospects than women because they tended to work more hours in their jobs and had accumulated more work experience. than women, especially after becoming parents.

Yavorsky explained that mothers are more likely to take a disproportionate share of household chores than men, take parental leave and disrupt their careers to care for children or other family members. As a result, men are often able to devote more time to their employers and gain critical work experience that can improve their chances for managerial promotions.

It is important to note that even after these explanations, leadership disparities remain between high performing mothers and fathers, suggesting that prejudice and discrimination are also at play.

This study focused on a sample of about 5,000 people born between 1957 and 1964. Researchers had access to data from the transcripts of these people and their responses to the number of people they managed on a scale. decade, from 1988 to 1998. According to Yavorsky, the survey used is the most recent survey that includes GPA transcription data, tracks early to mid-career teens, and captures the number of people they lead in. their work.

“These general trends are likely to apply to younger cohorts, as recent research indicates that progress on many key measures for gender equality in the workplace has stalled or slowed since the mid-1990s.” , Yavorsky explained. “In addition, contemporary research in the field indicates that the COVID-19 pandemic is more negatively affecting the employment and productivity of women than of men, in large part because mothers bear more of the responsibilities associated with shutting down businesses. schools and daycares. This pattern could further worsen gender disparities in work experience and therefore future opportunities for advancement in the workplace. “

Yavorsky noted two key government policy changes that could result in greater use of women’s talent: 1.) subsidized child care to make it more affordable and reliable for all families, and; 2.) Paid maternity and paternity leaves which encourage fathers to contribute more equitably to household expenses from the start of parenthood. She also said organizations need to review and better standardize promotional practices to eliminate prejudice and discrimination, and that they should create more avenues to management from female-dominated jobs.


A nationally recognized researcher on workplace inequalities and household divisions of labor, Yavorsky holds a PhD. in Sociology from Ohio State University. Her work has been published in many leading academic journals, earning her interview by a number of media outlets including the New York Times, TIME, Forbes, Washington Post, Newsweek, Slate and the Chicago Tribune.

About UNC Charlotte

UNC Charlotte is the North Carolina Urban Research University. With an enrollment of over 30,000 students, the University leverages its location in the state’s largest city to offer internationally competitive research and creative activity programs, exemplary premier programs. cycle, graduate and professional cycles, as well as a targeted set of community engagement initiatives.

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