Study: Women 30% less likely to be called in for an interview

Everybody knows about the pay gap but apparently, there’s a job-interview gap, too. Researchers at Universitat Pompeau Fabra in Spain used fake resumes of equally qualified men and women to apply for real jobs and found that women were 30% less likely than men to be selected for an in-person interview. The study was published in the European Sociological Review.

For the study, researchers set out to discover if employers discriminated against women based on stereotypes or prejudices. They sent fake resumes from men and women aged 37 to 39-years-old to 1,372  job openings from a variety of occupations in Madrid and Barcelona.

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The resumes were sent in pairs. In the first pair, both candidates had the same background, and the same qualifications and they differed by sex.

In the second pair, one of the candidates would have a more advanced background and extra skills like speaking a language. Another factor they added was that one candidate would be a parent.

The researchers also sent identical resumes to some open positions – one male, one female.


The resumes for male job candidates received callbacks for an interview 10.9% of the time, compared to 7.7% of the time when the same resume represented a female. From this, researchers calculated that the probability of receiving a call back for an interview as a female was 30% lower than for a man.

They also found high gender discrimination among candidates with children and less discrimination among women with higher skills.

The penalty drops to 23.4% if the women have a higher level of skills, and it also declines to a 20.3% lower callback probability if they do not have children. However, it drops to a 46.7% lower chance of being called in for an interview if they do have children.

Ultimately, the authors wrote, “gender bias in recruitment is largely grounded in employers’ stereotypes rather than in prejudices.” That is, it isn’t about sexism so much as it is about how hard and how effectively they think women will work as mothers, for example.

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