According to new research, the better the grades a female student gets, the less likely she is to land a job interview. One would assume it’s the opposite — and it is … for men.
An April study from Ohio State University found that women may be penalized in the job market for their academic success, and that’s especially so if they major in a primarily male-dominated field of mathematics. The researchers submitted 2,106 dummy job applications to over a thousand entry-level positions around the country, and they found that male college graduates with higher grades led to more callbacks — those with the highest grades (A and A-) received the most callbacks. The highest achieving men received callbacks 16% of the time, and the men with the lowest grades still received callbacks at a rate of about 11.7%.
The same couldn’t be said for women, however, who actually received less callbacks if their grades were higher. While women who were moderately successful were rewarded with more callbacks, women with the highest grades were less likely to receive a second call. In fact, they not only received a lower rate of callbacks than their B-earning peers, but they also received even less than men with the lowest grades in the study. They only received callbacks 9% of the time.
When the researchers looked at mathematics students, a field predominantly run by men, women fared even worse. Male math majors with the highest grades received calls 25% of the time. Meanwhile, women who majored in math and got the same grades only had a callback rate of 8%.
“Employers value competence and commitment among men applicants, but instead privilege women applicants who are perceived as likable,” says the study’s author, assistant Professor Natasha Quadlin. “This standard helps moderate-achieving women, who are often described as sociable and outgoing, but hurts high-achieving women, whose personalities are viewed with more skepticism.”
The results suggest that female applicants are being judged on their likability rather than their competence, which only reaffirms previous research that indicates that a gender bias indeed hurts high-achieving women.