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Research Article

Twenty years of gender equality research: A scoping review based on a new semantic indicator

Contributed equally to this work with: Paola Belingheri, Filippo Chiarello, Andrea Fronzetti Colladon, Paola Rovelli

Roles Conceptualization, Formal analysis, Funding acquisition, Visualization, Writing – original draft, Writing – review & editing

Affiliation Dipartimento di Ingegneria dell’Energia, dei Sistemi, del Territorio e delle Costruzioni, Università degli Studi di Pisa, Largo L. Lazzarino, Pisa, Italy

Roles Conceptualization, Data curation, Formal analysis, Funding acquisition, Methodology, Visualization, Writing – original draft, Writing – review & editing

Roles Conceptualization, Data curation, Formal analysis, Funding acquisition, Methodology, Software, Visualization, Writing – original draft, Writing – review & editing

* E-mail: [email protected]

Affiliations Department of Engineering, University of Perugia, Perugia, Italy, Department of Management, Kozminski University, Warsaw, Poland

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Roles Conceptualization, Formal analysis, Funding acquisition, Writing – original draft, Writing – review & editing

Affiliation Faculty of Economics and Management, Centre for Family Business Management, Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, Bozen-Bolzano, Italy

  • Paola Belingheri, 
  • Filippo Chiarello, 
  • Andrea Fronzetti Colladon, 
  • Paola Rovelli


  • Published: September 21, 2021
  • Reader Comments

9 Nov 2021: The PLOS ONE Staff (2021) Correction: Twenty years of gender equality research: A scoping review based on a new semantic indicator. PLOS ONE 16(11): e0259930. View correction

Table 1

Gender equality is a major problem that places women at a disadvantage thereby stymieing economic growth and societal advancement. In the last two decades, extensive research has been conducted on gender related issues, studying both their antecedents and consequences. However, existing literature reviews fail to provide a comprehensive and clear picture of what has been studied so far, which could guide scholars in their future research. Our paper offers a scoping review of a large portion of the research that has been published over the last 22 years, on gender equality and related issues, with a specific focus on business and economics studies. Combining innovative methods drawn from both network analysis and text mining, we provide a synthesis of 15,465 scientific articles. We identify 27 main research topics, we measure their relevance from a semantic point of view and the relationships among them, highlighting the importance of each topic in the overall gender discourse. We find that prominent research topics mostly relate to women in the workforce–e.g., concerning compensation, role, education, decision-making and career progression. However, some of them are losing momentum, and some other research trends–for example related to female entrepreneurship, leadership and participation in the board of directors–are on the rise. Besides introducing a novel methodology to review broad literature streams, our paper offers a map of the main gender-research trends and presents the most popular and the emerging themes, as well as their intersections, outlining important avenues for future research.

Citation: Belingheri P, Chiarello F, Fronzetti Colladon A, Rovelli P (2021) Twenty years of gender equality research: A scoping review based on a new semantic indicator. PLoS ONE 16(9): e0256474.

Editor: Elisa Ughetto, Politecnico di Torino, ITALY

Received: June 25, 2021; Accepted: August 6, 2021; Published: September 21, 2021

Copyright: © 2021 Belingheri et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Data Availability: All relevant data are within the manuscript and its supporting information files. The only exception is the text of the abstracts (over 15,000) that we have downloaded from Scopus. These abstracts can be retrieved from Scopus, but we do not have permission to redistribute them.

Funding: P.B and F.C.: Grant of the Department of Energy, Systems, Territory and Construction of the University of Pisa (DESTEC) for the project “Measuring Gender Bias with Semantic Analysis: The Development of an Assessment Tool and its Application in the European Space Industry. P.B., F.C., A.F.C., P.R.: Grant of the Italian Association of Management Engineering (AiIG), “Misure di sostegno ai soci giovani AiIG” 2020, for the project “Gender Equality Through Data Intelligence (GEDI)”. F.C.: EU project ASSETs+ Project (Alliance for Strategic Skills addressing Emerging Technologies in Defence) EAC/A03/2018 - Erasmus+ programme, Sector Skills Alliances, Lot 3: Sector Skills Alliance for implementing a new strategic approach (Blueprint) to sectoral cooperation on skills G.A. NUMBER: 612678-EPP-1-2019-1-IT-EPPKA2-SSA-B.

Competing interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.


The persistent gender inequalities that currently exist across the developed and developing world are receiving increasing attention from economists, policymakers, and the general public [e.g., 1 – 3 ]. Economic studies have indicated that women’s education and entry into the workforce contributes to social and economic well-being [e.g., 4 , 5 ], while their exclusion from the labor market and from managerial positions has an impact on overall labor productivity and income per capita [ 6 , 7 ]. The United Nations selected gender equality, with an emphasis on female education, as part of the Millennium Development Goals [ 8 ], and gender equality at-large as one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be achieved by 2030 [ 9 ]. These latter objectives involve not only developing nations, but rather all countries, to achieve economic, social and environmental well-being.

As is the case with many SDGs, gender equality is still far from being achieved and persists across education, access to opportunities, or presence in decision-making positions [ 7 , 10 , 11 ]. As we enter the last decade for the SDGs’ implementation, and while we are battling a global health pandemic, effective and efficient action becomes paramount to reach this ambitious goal.

Scholars have dedicated a massive effort towards understanding gender equality, its determinants, its consequences for women and society, and the appropriate actions and policies to advance women’s equality. Many topics have been covered, ranging from women’s education and human capital [ 12 , 13 ] and their role in society [e.g., 14 , 15 ], to their appointment in firms’ top ranked positions [e.g., 16 , 17 ] and performance implications [e.g., 18 , 19 ]. Despite some attempts, extant literature reviews provide a narrow view on these issues, restricted to specific topics–e.g., female students’ presence in STEM fields [ 20 ], educational gender inequality [ 5 ], the gender pay gap [ 21 ], the glass ceiling effect [ 22 ], leadership [ 23 ], entrepreneurship [ 24 ], women’s presence on the board of directors [ 25 , 26 ], diversity management [ 27 ], gender stereotypes in advertisement [ 28 ], or specific professions [ 29 ]. A comprehensive view on gender-related research, taking stock of key findings and under-studied topics is thus lacking.

Extant literature has also highlighted that gender issues, and their economic and social ramifications, are complex topics that involve a large number of possible antecedents and outcomes [ 7 ]. Indeed, gender equality actions are most effective when implemented in unison with other SDGs (e.g., with SDG 8, see [ 30 ]) in a synergetic perspective [ 10 ]. Many bodies of literature (e.g., business, economics, development studies, sociology and psychology) approach the problem of achieving gender equality from different perspectives–often addressing specific and narrow aspects. This sometimes leads to a lack of clarity about how different issues, circumstances, and solutions may be related in precipitating or mitigating gender inequality or its effects. As the number of papers grows at an increasing pace, this issue is exacerbated and there is a need to step back and survey the body of gender equality literature as a whole. There is also a need to examine synergies between different topics and approaches, as well as gaps in our understanding of how different problems and solutions work together. Considering the important topic of women’s economic and social empowerment, this paper aims to fill this gap by answering the following research question: what are the most relevant findings in the literature on gender equality and how do they relate to each other ?

To do so, we conduct a scoping review [ 31 ], providing a synthesis of 15,465 articles dealing with gender equity related issues published in the last twenty-two years, covering both the periods of the MDGs and the SDGs (i.e., 2000 to mid 2021) in all the journals indexed in the Academic Journal Guide’s 2018 ranking of business and economics journals. Given the huge amount of research conducted on the topic, we adopt an innovative methodology, which relies on social network analysis and text mining. These techniques are increasingly adopted when surveying large bodies of text. Recently, they were applied to perform analysis of online gender communication differences [ 32 ] and gender behaviors in online technology communities [ 33 ], to identify and classify sexual harassment instances in academia [ 34 ], and to evaluate the gender inclusivity of disaster management policies [ 35 ].

Applied to the title, abstracts and keywords of the articles in our sample, this methodology allows us to identify a set of 27 recurrent topics within which we automatically classify the papers. Introducing additional novelty, by means of the Semantic Brand Score (SBS) indicator [ 36 ] and the SBS BI app [ 37 ], we assess the importance of each topic in the overall gender equality discourse and its relationships with the other topics, as well as trends over time, with a more accurate description than that offered by traditional literature reviews relying solely on the number of papers presented in each topic.

This methodology, applied to gender equality research spanning the past twenty-two years, enables two key contributions. First, we extract the main message that each document is conveying and how this is connected to other themes in literature, providing a rich picture of the topics that are at the center of the discourse, as well as of the emerging topics. Second, by examining the semantic relationship between topics and how tightly their discourses are linked, we can identify the key relationships and connections between different topics. This semi-automatic methodology is also highly reproducible with minimum effort.

This literature review is organized as follows. In the next section, we present how we selected relevant papers and how we analyzed them through text mining and social network analysis. We then illustrate the importance of 27 selected research topics, measured by means of the SBS indicator. In the results section, we present an overview of the literature based on the SBS results–followed by an in-depth narrative analysis of the top 10 topics (i.e., those with the highest SBS) and their connections. Subsequently, we highlight a series of under-studied connections between the topics where there is potential for future research. Through this analysis, we build a map of the main gender-research trends in the last twenty-two years–presenting the most popular themes. We conclude by highlighting key areas on which research should focused in the future.

Our aim is to map a broad topic, gender equality research, that has been approached through a host of different angles and through different disciplines. Scoping reviews are the most appropriate as they provide the freedom to map different themes and identify literature gaps, thereby guiding the recommendation of new research agendas [ 38 ].

Several practical approaches have been proposed to identify and assess the underlying topics of a specific field using big data [ 39 – 41 ], but many of them fail without proper paper retrieval and text preprocessing. This is specifically true for a research field such as the gender-related one, which comprises the work of scholars from different backgrounds. In this section, we illustrate a novel approach for the analysis of scientific (gender-related) papers that relies on methods and tools of social network analysis and text mining. Our procedure has four main steps: (1) data collection, (2) text preprocessing, (3) keywords extraction and classification, and (4) evaluation of semantic importance and image.

Data collection

In this study, we analyze 22 years of literature on gender-related research. Following established practice for scoping reviews [ 42 ], our data collection consisted of two main steps, which we summarize here below.

Firstly, we retrieved from the Scopus database all the articles written in English that contained the term “gender” in their title, abstract or keywords and were published in a journal listed in the Academic Journal Guide 2018 ranking of the Chartered Association of Business Schools (CABS) ( ), considering the time period from Jan 2000 to May 2021. We used this information considering that abstracts, titles and keywords represent the most informative part of a paper, while using the full-text would increase the signal-to-noise ratio for information extraction. Indeed, these textual elements already demonstrated to be reliable sources of information for the task of domain lexicon extraction [ 43 , 44 ]. We chose Scopus as source of literature because of its popularity, its update rate, and because it offers an API to ease the querying process. Indeed, while it does not allow to retrieve the full text of scientific articles, the Scopus API offers access to titles, abstracts, citation information and metadata for all its indexed scholarly journals. Moreover, we decided to focus on the journals listed in the AJG 2018 ranking because we were interested in reviewing business and economics related gender studies only. The AJG is indeed widely used by universities and business schools as a reference point for journal and research rigor and quality. This first step, executed in June 2021, returned more than 55,000 papers.

In the second step–because a look at the papers showed very sparse results, many of which were not in line with the topic of this literature review (e.g., papers dealing with health care or medical issues, where the word gender indicates the gender of the patients)–we applied further inclusion criteria to make the sample more focused on the topic of this literature review (i.e., women’s gender equality issues). Specifically, we only retained those papers mentioning, in their title and/or abstract, both gender-related keywords (e.g., daughter, female, mother) and keywords referring to bias and equality issues (e.g., equality, bias, diversity, inclusion). After text pre-processing (see next section), keywords were first identified from a frequency-weighted list of words found in the titles, abstracts and keywords in the initial list of papers, extracted through text mining (following the same approach as [ 43 ]). They were selected by two of the co-authors independently, following respectively a bottom up and a top-down approach. The bottom-up approach consisted of examining the words found in the frequency-weighted list and classifying those related to gender and equality. The top-down approach consisted in searching in the word list for notable gender and equality-related words. Table 1 reports the sets of keywords we considered, together with some examples of words that were used to search for their presence in the dataset (a full list is provided in the S1 Text ). At end of this second step, we obtained a final sample of 15,465 relevant papers.


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Text processing and keyword extraction

Text preprocessing aims at structuring text into a form that can be analyzed by statistical models. In the present section, we describe the preprocessing steps we applied to paper titles and abstracts, which, as explained below, partially follow a standard text preprocessing pipeline [ 45 ]. These activities have been performed using the R package udpipe [ 46 ].

The first step is n-gram extraction (i.e., a sequence of words from a given text sample) to identify which n-grams are important in the analysis, since domain-specific lexicons are often composed by bi-grams and tri-grams [ 47 ]. Multi-word extraction is usually implemented with statistics and linguistic rules, thus using the statistical properties of n-grams or machine learning approaches [ 48 ]. However, for the present paper, we used Scopus metadata in order to have a more effective and efficient n-grams collection approach [ 49 ]. We used the keywords of each paper in order to tag n-grams with their associated keywords automatically. Using this greedy approach, it was possible to collect all the keywords listed by the authors of the papers. From this list, we extracted only keywords composed by two, three and four words, we removed all the acronyms and rare keywords (i.e., appearing in less than 1% of papers), and we clustered keywords showing a high orthographic similarity–measured using a Levenshtein distance [ 50 ] lower than 2, considering these groups of keywords as representing same concepts, but expressed with different spelling. After tagging the n-grams in the abstracts, we followed a common data preparation pipeline that consists of the following steps: (i) tokenization, that splits the text into tokens (i.e., single words and previously tagged multi-words); (ii) removal of stop-words (i.e. those words that add little meaning to the text, usually being very common and short functional words–such as “and”, “or”, or “of”); (iii) parts-of-speech tagging, that is providing information concerning the morphological role of a word and its morphosyntactic context (e.g., if the token is a determiner, the next token is a noun or an adjective with very high confidence, [ 51 ]); and (iv) lemmatization, which consists in substituting each word with its dictionary form (or lemma). The output of the latter step allows grouping together the inflected forms of a word. For example, the verbs “am”, “are”, and “is” have the shared lemma “be”, or the nouns “cat” and “cats” both share the lemma “cat”. We preferred lemmatization over stemming [ 52 ] in order to obtain more interpretable results.

In addition, we identified a further set of keywords (with respect to those listed in the “keywords” field) by applying a series of automatic words unification and removal steps, as suggested in past research [ 53 , 54 ]. We removed: sparse terms (i.e., occurring in less than 0.1% of all documents), common terms (i.e., occurring in more than 10% of all documents) and retained only nouns and adjectives. It is relevant to notice that no document was lost due to these steps. We then used the TF-IDF function [ 55 ] to produce a new list of keywords. We additionally tested other approaches for the identification and clustering of keywords–such as TextRank [ 56 ] or Latent Dirichlet Allocation [ 57 ]–without obtaining more informative results.

Classification of research topics

To guide the literature analysis, two experts met regularly to examine the sample of collected papers and to identify the main topics and trends in gender research. Initially, they conducted brainstorming sessions on the topics they expected to find, due to their knowledge of the literature. This led to an initial list of topics. Subsequently, the experts worked independently, also supported by the keywords in paper titles and abstracts extracted with the procedure described above.

Considering all this information, each expert identified and clustered relevant keywords into topics. At the end of the process, the two assignments were compared and exhibited a 92% agreement. Another meeting was held to discuss discordant cases and reach a consensus. This resulted in a list of 27 topics, briefly introduced in Table 2 and subsequently detailed in the following sections.


Evaluation of semantic importance

Working on the lemmatized corpus of the 15,465 papers included in our sample, we proceeded with the evaluation of semantic importance trends for each topic and with the analysis of their connections and prevalent textual associations. To this aim, we used the Semantic Brand Score indicator [ 36 ], calculated through the SBS BI webapp [ 37 ] that also produced a brand image report for each topic. For this study we relied on the computing resources of the ENEA/CRESCO infrastructure [ 58 ].

The Semantic Brand Score (SBS) is a measure of semantic importance that combines methods of social network analysis and text mining. It is usually applied for the analysis of (big) textual data to evaluate the importance of one or more brands, names, words, or sets of keywords [ 36 ]. Indeed, the concept of “brand” is intended in a flexible way and goes beyond products or commercial brands. In this study, we evaluate the SBS time-trends of the keywords defining the research topics discussed in the previous section. Semantic importance comprises the three dimensions of topic prevalence, diversity and connectivity. Prevalence measures how frequently a research topic is used in the discourse. The more a topic is mentioned by scientific articles, the more the research community will be aware of it, with possible increase of future studies; this construct is partly related to that of brand awareness [ 59 ]. This effect is even stronger, considering that we are analyzing the title, abstract and keywords of the papers, i.e. the parts that have the highest visibility. A very important characteristic of the SBS is that it considers the relationships among words in a text. Topic importance is not just a matter of how frequently a topic is mentioned, but also of the associations a topic has in the text. Specifically, texts are transformed into networks of co-occurring words, and relationships are studied through social network analysis [ 60 ]. This step is necessary to calculate the other two dimensions of our semantic importance indicator. Accordingly, a social network of words is generated for each time period considered in the analysis–i.e., a graph made of n nodes (words) and E edges weighted by co-occurrence frequency, with W being the set of edge weights. The keywords representing each topic were clustered into single nodes.

The construct of diversity relates to that of brand image [ 59 ], in the sense that it considers the richness and distinctiveness of textual (topic) associations. Considering the above-mentioned networks, we calculated diversity using the distinctiveness centrality metric–as in the formula presented by Fronzetti Colladon and Naldi [ 61 ].

Lastly, connectivity was measured as the weighted betweenness centrality [ 62 , 63 ] of each research topic node. We used the formula presented by Wasserman and Faust [ 60 ]. The dimension of connectivity represents the “brokerage power” of each research topic–i.e., how much it can serve as a bridge to connect other terms (and ultimately topics) in the discourse [ 36 ].

The SBS is the final composite indicator obtained by summing the standardized scores of prevalence, diversity and connectivity. Standardization was carried out considering all the words in the corpus, for each specific timeframe.

This methodology, applied to a large and heterogeneous body of text, enables to automatically identify two important sets of information that add value to the literature review. Firstly, the relevance of each topic in literature is measured through a composite indicator of semantic importance, rather than simply looking at word frequencies. This provides a much richer picture of the topics that are at the center of the discourse, as well as of the topics that are emerging in the literature. Secondly, it enables to examine the extent of the semantic relationship between topics, looking at how tightly their discourses are linked. In a field such as gender equality, where many topics are closely linked to each other and present overlaps in issues and solutions, this methodology offers a novel perspective with respect to traditional literature reviews. In addition, it ensures reproducibility over time and the possibility to semi-automatically update the analysis, as new papers become available.

Overview of main topics

In terms of descriptive textual statistics, our corpus is made of 15,465 text documents, consisting of a total of 2,685,893 lemmatized tokens (words) and 32,279 types. As a result, the type-token ratio is 1.2%. The number of hapaxes is 12,141, with a hapax-token ratio of 37.61%.

Fig 1 shows the list of 27 topics by decreasing SBS. The most researched topic is compensation , exceeding all others in prevalence, diversity, and connectivity. This means it is not only mentioned more often than other topics, but it is also connected to a greater number of other topics and is central to the discourse on gender equality. The next four topics are, in order of SBS, role , education , decision-making , and career progression . These topics, except for education , all concern women in the workforce. Between these first five topics and the following ones there is a clear drop in SBS scores. In particular, the topics that follow have a lower connectivity than the first five. They are hiring , performance , behavior , organization , and human capital . Again, except for behavior and human capital , the other three topics are purely related to women in the workforce. After another drop-off, the following topics deal prevalently with women in society. This trend highlights that research on gender in business journals has so far mainly paid attention to the conditions that women experience in business contexts, while also devoting some attention to women in society.


Fig 2 shows the SBS time series of the top 10 topics. While there has been a general increase in the number of Scopus-indexed publications in the last decade, we notice that some SBS trends remain steady, or even decrease. In particular, we observe that the main topic of the last twenty-two years, compensation , is losing momentum. Since 2016, it has been surpassed by decision-making , education and role , which may indicate that literature is increasingly attempting to identify root causes of compensation inequalities. Moreover, in the last two years, the topics of hiring , performance , and organization are experiencing the largest importance increase.


Fig 3 shows the SBS time trends of the remaining 17 topics (i.e., those not in the top 10). As we can see from the graph, there are some that maintain a steady trend–such as reputation , management , networks and governance , which also seem to have little importance. More relevant topics with average stationary trends (except for the last two years) are culture , family , and parenting . The feminine topic is among the most important here, and one of those that exhibit the larger variations over time (similarly to leadership ). On the other hand, the are some topics that, even if not among the most important, show increasing SBS trends; therefore, they could be considered as emerging topics and could become popular in the near future. These are entrepreneurship , leadership , board of directors , and sustainability . These emerging topics are also interesting to anticipate future trends in gender equality research that are conducive to overall equality in society.


In addition to the SBS score of the different topics, the network of terms they are associated to enables to gauge the extent to which their images (textual associations) overlap or differ ( Fig 4 ).


There is a central cluster of topics with high similarity, which are all connected with women in the workforce. The cluster includes topics such as organization , decision-making , performance , hiring , human capital , education and compensation . In addition, the topic of well-being is found within this cluster, suggesting that women’s equality in the workforce is associated to well-being considerations. The emerging topics of entrepreneurship and leadership are also closely connected with each other, possibly implying that leadership is a much-researched quality in female entrepreneurship. Topics that are relatively more distant include personality , politics , feminine , empowerment , management , board of directors , reputation , governance , parenting , masculine and network .

The following sections describe the top 10 topics and their main associations in literature (see Table 3 ), while providing a brief overview of the emerging topics.



The topic of compensation is related to the topics of role , hiring , education and career progression , however, also sees a very high association with the words gap and inequality . Indeed, a well-known debate in degrowth economics centers around whether and how to adequately compensate women for their childbearing, childrearing, caregiver and household work [e.g., 30 ].

Even in paid work, women continue being offered lower compensations than their male counterparts who have the same job or cover the same role [ 64 – 67 ]. This severe inequality has been widely studied by scholars over the last twenty-two years. Dealing with this topic, some specific roles have been addressed. Specifically, research highlighted differences in compensation between female and male CEOs [e.g., 68 ], top executives [e.g., 69 ], and boards’ directors [e.g., 70 ]. Scholars investigated the determinants of these gaps, such as the gender composition of the board [e.g., 71 – 73 ] or women’s individual characteristics [e.g., 71 , 74 ].

Among these individual characteristics, education plays a relevant role [ 75 ]. Education is indeed presented as the solution for women, not only to achieve top executive roles, but also to reduce wage inequality [e.g., 76 , 77 ]. Past research has highlighted education influences on gender wage gaps, specifically referring to gender differences in skills [e.g., 78 ], college majors [e.g., 79 ], and college selectivity [e.g., 80 ].

Finally, the wage gap issue is strictly interrelated with hiring –e.g., looking at whether being a mother affects hiring and compensation [e.g., 65 , 81 ] or relating compensation to unemployment [e.g., 82 ]–and career progression –for instance looking at meritocracy [ 83 , 84 ] or the characteristics of the boss for whom women work [e.g., 85 ].

The roles covered by women have been deeply investigated. Scholars have focused on the role of women in their families and the society as a whole [e.g., 14 , 15 ], and, more widely, in business contexts [e.g., 18 , 81 ]. Indeed, despite still lagging behind their male counterparts [e.g., 86 , 87 ], in the last decade there has been an increase in top ranked positions achieved by women [e.g., 88 , 89 ]. Following this phenomenon, scholars have posed greater attention towards the presence of women in the board of directors [e.g., 16 , 18 , 90 , 91 ], given the increasing pressure to appoint female directors that firms, especially listed ones, have experienced. Other scholars have focused on the presence of women covering the role of CEO [e.g., 17 , 92 ] or being part of the top management team [e.g., 93 ]. Irrespectively of the level of analysis, all these studies tried to uncover the antecedents of women’s presence among top managers [e.g., 92 , 94 ] and the consequences of having a them involved in the firm’s decision-making –e.g., on performance [e.g., 19 , 95 , 96 ], risk [e.g., 97 , 98 ], and corporate social responsibility [e.g., 99 , 100 ].

Besides studying the difficulties and discriminations faced by women in getting a job [ 81 , 101 ], and, more specifically in the hiring , appointment, or career progression to these apical roles [e.g., 70 , 83 ], the majority of research of women’s roles dealt with compensation issues. Specifically, scholars highlight the pay-gap that still exists between women and men, both in general [e.g., 64 , 65 ], as well as referring to boards’ directors [e.g., 70 , 102 ], CEOs and executives [e.g., 69 , 103 , 104 ].

Finally, other scholars focused on the behavior of women when dealing with business. In this sense, particular attention has been paid to leadership and entrepreneurial behaviors. The former quite overlaps with dealing with the roles mentioned above, but also includes aspects such as leaders being stereotyped as masculine [e.g., 105 ], the need for greater exposure to female leaders to reduce biases [e.g., 106 ], or female leaders acting as queen bees [e.g., 107 ]. Regarding entrepreneurship , scholars mainly investigated women’s entrepreneurial entry [e.g., 108 , 109 ], differences between female and male entrepreneurs in the evaluations and funding received from investors [e.g., 110 , 111 ], and their performance gap [e.g., 112 , 113 ].

Education has long been recognized as key to social advancement and economic stability [ 114 ], for job progression and also a barrier to gender equality, especially in STEM-related fields. Research on education and gender equality is mostly linked with the topics of compensation , human capital , career progression , hiring , parenting and decision-making .

Education contributes to a higher human capital [ 115 ] and constitutes an investment on the part of women towards their future. In this context, literature points to the gender gap in educational attainment, and the consequences for women from a social, economic, personal and professional standpoint. Women are found to have less access to formal education and information, especially in emerging countries, which in turn may cause them to lose social and economic opportunities [e.g., 12 , 116 – 119 ]. Education in local and rural communities is also paramount to communicate the benefits of female empowerment , contributing to overall societal well-being [e.g., 120 ].

Once women access education, the image they have of the world and their place in society (i.e., habitus) affects their education performance [ 13 ] and is passed on to their children. These situations reinforce gender stereotypes, which become self-fulfilling prophecies that may negatively affect female students’ performance by lowering their confidence and heightening their anxiety [ 121 , 122 ]. Besides formal education, also the information that women are exposed to on a daily basis contributes to their human capital . Digital inequalities, for instance, stems from men spending more time online and acquiring higher digital skills than women [ 123 ].

Education is also a factor that should boost employability of candidates and thus hiring , career progression and compensation , however the relationship between these factors is not straightforward [ 115 ]. First, educational choices ( decision-making ) are influenced by variables such as self-efficacy and the presence of barriers, irrespectively of the career opportunities they offer, especially in STEM [ 124 ]. This brings additional difficulties to women’s enrollment and persistence in scientific and technical fields of study due to stereotypes and biases [ 125 , 126 ]. Moreover, access to education does not automatically translate into job opportunities for women and minority groups [ 127 , 128 ] or into female access to managerial positions [ 129 ].

Finally, parenting is reported as an antecedent of education [e.g., 130 ], with much of the literature focusing on the role of parents’ education on the opportunities afforded to children to enroll in education [ 131 – 134 ] and the role of parenting in their offspring’s perception of study fields and attitudes towards learning [ 135 – 138 ]. Parental education is also a predictor of the other related topics, namely human capital and compensation [ 139 ].


This literature mainly points to the fact that women are thought to make decisions differently than men. Women have indeed different priorities, such as they care more about people’s well-being, working with people or helping others, rather than maximizing their personal (or their firm’s) gain [ 140 ]. In other words, women typically present more communal than agentic behaviors, which are instead more frequent among men [ 141 ]. These different attitude, behavior and preferences in turn affect the decisions they make [e.g., 142 ] and the decision-making of the firm in which they work [e.g., 143 ].

At the individual level, gender affects, for instance, career aspirations [e.g., 144 ] and choices [e.g., 142 , 145 ], or the decision of creating a venture [e.g., 108 , 109 , 146 ]. Moreover, in everyday life, women and men make different decisions regarding partners [e.g., 147 ], childcare [e.g., 148 ], education [e.g., 149 ], attention to the environment [e.g., 150 ] and politics [e.g., 151 ].

At the firm level, scholars highlighted, for example, how the presence of women in the board affects corporate decisions [e.g., 152 , 153 ], that female CEOs are more conservative in accounting decisions [e.g., 154 ], or that female CFOs tend to make more conservative decisions regarding the firm’s financial reporting [e.g., 155 ]. Nevertheless, firm level research also investigated decisions that, influenced by gender bias, affect women, such as those pertaining hiring [e.g., 156 , 157 ], compensation [e.g., 73 , 158 ], or the empowerment of women once appointed [ 159 ].

Career progression.

Once women have entered the workforce, the key aspect to achieve gender equality becomes career progression , including efforts toward overcoming the glass ceiling. Indeed, according to the SBS analysis, career progression is highly related to words such as work, social issues and equality. The topic with which it has the highest semantic overlap is role , followed by decision-making , hiring , education , compensation , leadership , human capital , and family .

Career progression implies an advancement in the hierarchical ladder of the firm, assigning managerial roles to women. Coherently, much of the literature has focused on identifying rationales for a greater female participation in the top management team and board of directors [e.g., 95 ] as well as the best criteria to ensure that the decision-makers promote the most valuable employees irrespectively of their individual characteristics, such as gender [e.g., 84 ]. The link between career progression , role and compensation is often provided in practice by performance appraisal exercises, frequently rooted in a culture of meritocracy that guides bonuses, salary increases and promotions. However, performance appraisals can actually mask gender-biased decisions where women are held to higher standards than their male colleagues [e.g., 83 , 84 , 95 , 160 , 161 ]. Women often have less opportunities to gain leadership experience and are less visible than their male colleagues, which constitute barriers to career advancement [e.g., 162 ]. Therefore, transparency and accountability, together with procedures that discourage discretionary choices, are paramount to achieve a fair career progression [e.g., 84 ], together with the relaxation of strict job boundaries in favor of cross-functional and self-directed tasks [e.g., 163 ].

In addition, a series of stereotypes about the type of leadership characteristics that are required for top management positions, which fit better with typical male and agentic attributes, are another key barrier to career advancement for women [e.g., 92 , 160 ].

Hiring is the entrance gateway for women into the workforce. Therefore, it is related to other workforce topics such as compensation , role , career progression , decision-making , human capital , performance , organization and education .

A first stream of literature focuses on the process leading up to candidates’ job applications, demonstrating that bias exists before positions are even opened, and it is perpetuated both by men and women through networking and gatekeeping practices [e.g., 164 , 165 ].

The hiring process itself is also subject to biases [ 166 ], for example gender-congruity bias that leads to men being preferred candidates in male-dominated sectors [e.g., 167 ], women being hired in positions with higher risk of failure [e.g., 168 ] and limited transparency and accountability afforded by written processes and procedures [e.g., 164 ] that all contribute to ascriptive inequality. In addition, providing incentives for evaluators to hire women may actually work to this end; however, this is not the case when supporting female candidates endangers higher-ranking male ones [ 169 ].

Another interesting perspective, instead, looks at top management teams’ composition and the effects on hiring practices, indicating that firms with more women in top management are less likely to lay off staff [e.g., 152 ].


Several scholars posed their attention towards women’s performance, its consequences [e.g., 170 , 171 ] and the implications of having women in decision-making positions [e.g., 18 , 19 ].

At the individual level, research focused on differences in educational and academic performance between women and men, especially referring to the gender gap in STEM fields [e.g., 171 ]. The presence of stereotype threats–that is the expectation that the members of a social group (e.g., women) “must deal with the possibility of being judged or treated stereotypically, or of doing something that would confirm the stereotype” [ 172 ]–affects women’s interested in STEM [e.g., 173 ], as well as their cognitive ability tests, penalizing them [e.g., 174 ]. A stronger gender identification enhances this gap [e.g., 175 ], whereas mentoring and role models can be used as solutions to this problem [e.g., 121 ]. Despite the negative effect of stereotype threats on girls’ performance [ 176 ], female and male students perform equally in mathematics and related subjects [e.g., 177 ]. Moreover, while individuals’ performance at school and university generally affects their achievements and the field in which they end up working, evidence reveals that performance in math or other scientific subjects does not explain why fewer women enter STEM working fields; rather this gap depends on other aspects, such as culture, past working experiences, or self-efficacy [e.g., 170 ]. Finally, scholars have highlighted the penalization that women face for their positive performance, for instance when they succeed in traditionally male areas [e.g., 178 ]. This penalization is explained by the violation of gender-stereotypic prescriptions [e.g., 179 , 180 ], that is having women well performing in agentic areas, which are typical associated to men. Performance penalization can thus be overcome by clearly conveying communal characteristics and behaviors [ 178 ].

Evidence has been provided on how the involvement of women in boards of directors and decision-making positions affects firms’ performance. Nevertheless, results are mixed, with some studies showing positive effects on financial [ 19 , 181 , 182 ] and corporate social performance [ 99 , 182 , 183 ]. Other studies maintain a negative association [e.g., 18 ], and other again mixed [e.g., 184 ] or non-significant association [e.g., 185 ]. Also with respect to the presence of a female CEO, mixed results emerged so far, with some researches demonstrating a positive effect on firm’s performance [e.g., 96 , 186 ], while other obtaining only a limited evidence of this relationship [e.g., 103 ] or a negative one [e.g., 187 ].

Finally, some studies have investigated whether and how women’s performance affects their hiring [e.g., 101 ] and career progression [e.g., 83 , 160 ]. For instance, academic performance leads to different returns in hiring for women and men. Specifically, high-achieving men are called back significantly more often than high-achieving women, which are penalized when they have a major in mathematics; this result depends on employers’ gendered standards for applicants [e.g., 101 ]. Once appointed, performance ratings are more strongly related to promotions for women than men, and promoted women typically show higher past performance ratings than those of promoted men. This suggesting that women are subject to stricter standards for promotion [e.g., 160 ].

Behavioral aspects related to gender follow two main streams of literature. The first examines female personality and behavior in the workplace, and their alignment with cultural expectations or stereotypes [e.g., 188 ] as well as their impacts on equality. There is a common bias that depicts women as less agentic than males. Certain characteristics, such as those more congruent with male behaviors–e.g., self-promotion [e.g., 189 ], negotiation skills [e.g., 190 ] and general agentic behavior [e.g., 191 ]–, are less accepted in women. However, characteristics such as individualism in women have been found to promote greater gender equality in society [ 192 ]. In addition, behaviors such as display of emotions [e.g., 193 ], which are stereotypically female, work against women’s acceptance in the workplace, requiring women to carefully moderate their behavior to avoid exclusion. A counter-intuitive result is that women and minorities, which are more marginalized in the workplace, tend to be better problem-solvers in innovation competitions due to their different knowledge bases [ 194 ].

The other side of the coin is examined in a parallel literature stream on behavior towards women in the workplace. As a result of biases, prejudices and stereotypes, women may experience adverse behavior from their colleagues, such as incivility and harassment, which undermine their well-being [e.g., 195 , 196 ]. Biases that go beyond gender, such as for overweight people, are also more strongly applied to women [ 197 ].


The role of women and gender bias in organizations has been studied from different perspectives, which mirror those presented in detail in the following sections. Specifically, most research highlighted the stereotypical view of leaders [e.g., 105 ] and the roles played by women within firms, for instance referring to presence in the board of directors [e.g., 18 , 90 , 91 ], appointment as CEOs [e.g., 16 ], or top executives [e.g., 93 ].

Scholars have investigated antecedents and consequences of the presence of women in these apical roles. On the one side they looked at hiring and career progression [e.g., 83 , 92 , 160 , 168 , 198 ], finding women typically disadvantaged with respect to their male counterparts. On the other side, they studied women’s leadership styles and influence on the firm’s decision-making [e.g., 152 , 154 , 155 , 199 ], with implications for performance [e.g., 18 , 19 , 96 ].

Human capital.

Human capital is a transverse topic that touches upon many different aspects of female gender equality. As such, it has the most associations with other topics, starting with education as mentioned above, with career-related topics such as role , decision-making , hiring , career progression , performance , compensation , leadership and organization . Another topic with which there is a close connection is behavior . In general, human capital is approached both from the education standpoint but also from the perspective of social capital.

The behavioral aspect in human capital comprises research related to gender differences for example in cultural and religious beliefs that influence women’s attitudes and perceptions towards STEM subjects [ 142 , 200 – 202 ], towards employment [ 203 ] or towards environmental issues [ 150 , 204 ]. These cultural differences also emerge in the context of globalization which may accelerate gender equality in the workforce [ 205 , 206 ]. Gender differences also appear in behaviors such as motivation [ 207 ], and in negotiation [ 190 ], and have repercussions on women’s decision-making related to their careers. The so-called gender equality paradox sees women in countries with lower gender equality more likely to pursue studies and careers in STEM fields, whereas the gap in STEM enrollment widens as countries achieve greater equality in society [ 171 ].

Career progression is modeled by literature as a choice-process where personal preferences, culture and decision-making affect the chosen path and the outcomes. Some literature highlights how women tend to self-select into different professions than men, often due to stereotypes rather than actual ability to perform in these professions [ 142 , 144 ]. These stereotypes also affect the perceptions of female performance or the amount of human capital required to equal male performance [ 110 , 193 , 208 ], particularly for mothers [ 81 ]. It is therefore often assumed that women are better suited to less visible and less leadership -oriented roles [ 209 ]. Women also express differing preferences towards work-family balance, which affect whether and how they pursue human capital gains [ 210 ], and ultimately their career progression and salary .

On the other hand, men are often unaware of gendered processes and behaviors that they carry forward in their interactions and decision-making [ 211 , 212 ]. Therefore, initiatives aimed at increasing managers’ human capital –by raising awareness of gender disparities in their organizations and engaging them in diversity promotion–are essential steps to counter gender bias and segregation [ 213 ].

Emerging topics: Leadership and entrepreneurship

Among the emerging topics, the most pervasive one is women reaching leadership positions in the workforce and in society. This is still a rare occurrence for two main types of factors, on the one hand, bias and discrimination make it harder for women to access leadership positions [e.g., 214 – 216 ], on the other hand, the competitive nature and high pressure associated with leadership positions, coupled with the lack of women currently represented, reduce women’s desire to achieve them [e.g., 209 , 217 ]. Women are more effective leaders when they have access to education, resources and a diverse environment with representation [e.g., 218 , 219 ].

One sector where there is potential for women to carve out a leadership role is entrepreneurship . Although at the start of the millennium the discourse on entrepreneurship was found to be “discriminatory, gender-biased, ethnocentrically determined and ideologically controlled” [ 220 ], an increasing body of literature is studying how to stimulate female entrepreneurship as an alternative pathway to wealth, leadership and empowerment [e.g., 221 ]. Many barriers exist for women to access entrepreneurship, including the institutional and legal environment, social and cultural factors, access to knowledge and resources, and individual behavior [e.g., 222 , 223 ]. Education has been found to raise women’s entrepreneurial intentions [e.g., 224 ], although this effect is smaller than for men [e.g., 109 ]. In addition, increasing self-efficacy and risk-taking behavior constitute important success factors [e.g., 225 ].

Finally, the topic of sustainability is worth mentioning, as it is the primary objective of the SDGs and is closely associated with societal well-being. As society grapples with the effects of climate change and increasing depletion of natural resources, a narrative has emerged on women and their greater link to the environment [ 226 ]. Studies in developed countries have found some support for women leaders’ attention to sustainability issues in firms [e.g., 227 – 229 ], and smaller resource consumption by women [ 230 ]. At the same time, women will likely be more affected by the consequences of climate change [e.g., 230 ] but often lack the decision-making power to influence local decision-making on resource management and environmental policies [e.g., 231 ].

Research gaps and conclusions

Research on gender equality has advanced rapidly in the past decades, with a steady increase in publications, both in mainstream topics related to women in education and the workforce, and in emerging topics. Through a novel approach combining methods of text mining and social network analysis, we examined a comprehensive body of literature comprising 15,465 papers published between 2000 and mid 2021 on topics related to gender equality. We identified a set of 27 topics addressed by the literature and examined their connections.

At the highest level of abstraction, it is worth noting that papers abound on the identification of issues related to gender inequalities and imbalances in the workforce and in society. Literature has thoroughly examined the (unconscious) biases, barriers, stereotypes, and discriminatory behaviors that women are facing as a result of their gender. Instead, there are much fewer papers that discuss or demonstrate effective solutions to overcome gender bias [e.g., 121 , 143 , 145 , 163 , 194 , 213 , 232 ]. This is partly due to the relative ease in studying the status quo, as opposed to studying changes in the status quo. However, we observed a shift in the more recent years towards solution seeking in this domain, which we strongly encourage future researchers to focus on. In the future, we may focus on collecting and mapping pro-active contributions to gender studies, using additional Natural Language Processing techniques, able to measure the sentiment of scientific papers [ 43 ].

All of the mainstream topics identified in our literature review are closely related, and there is a wealth of insights looking at the intersection between issues such as education and career progression or human capital and role . However, emerging topics are worthy of being furtherly explored. It would be interesting to see more work on the topic of female entrepreneurship , exploring aspects such as education , personality , governance , management and leadership . For instance, how can education support female entrepreneurship? How can self-efficacy and risk-taking behaviors be taught or enhanced? What are the differences in managerial and governance styles of female entrepreneurs? Which personality traits are associated with successful entrepreneurs? Which traits are preferred by venture capitalists and funding bodies?

The emerging topic of sustainability also deserves further attention, as our society struggles with climate change and its consequences. It would be interesting to see more research on the intersection between sustainability and entrepreneurship , looking at how female entrepreneurs are tackling sustainability issues, examining both their business models and their company governance . In addition, scholars are suggested to dig deeper into the relationship between family values and behaviors.

Moreover, it would be relevant to understand how women’s networks (social capital), or the composition and structure of social networks involving both women and men, enable them to increase their remuneration and reach top corporate positions, participate in key decision-making bodies, and have a voice in communities. Furthermore, the achievement of gender equality might significantly change firm networks and ecosystems, with important implications for their performance and survival.

Similarly, research at the nexus of (corporate) governance , career progression , compensation and female empowerment could yield useful insights–for example discussing how enterprises, institutions and countries are managed and the impact for women and other minorities. Are there specific governance structures that favor diversity and inclusion?

Lastly, we foresee an emerging stream of research pertaining how the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic challenged women, especially in the workforce, by making gender biases more evident.

For our analysis, we considered a set of 15,465 articles downloaded from the Scopus database (which is the largest abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature). As we were interested in reviewing business and economics related gender studies, we only considered those papers published in journals listed in the Academic Journal Guide (AJG) 2018 ranking of the Chartered Association of Business Schools (CABS). All the journals listed in this ranking are also indexed by Scopus. Therefore, looking at a single database (i.e., Scopus) should not be considered a limitation of our study. However, future research could consider different databases and inclusion criteria.

With our literature review, we offer researchers a comprehensive map of major gender-related research trends over the past twenty-two years. This can serve as a lens to look to the future, contributing to the achievement of SDG5. Researchers may use our study as a starting point to identify key themes addressed in the literature. In addition, our methodological approach–based on the use of the Semantic Brand Score and its webapp–could support scholars interested in reviewing other areas of research.

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Gender inequality as a barrier to economic growth: a review of the theoretical literature

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  • Published: 15 January 2021
  • Volume 19 , pages 581–614, ( 2021 )

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gender inequality thesis introduction

  • Manuel Santos Silva 1 &
  • Stephan Klasen 1  

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In this article, we survey the theoretical literature investigating the role of gender inequality in economic development. The vast majority of theories reviewed argue that gender inequality is a barrier to development, particularly over the long run. Among the many plausible mechanisms through which inequality between men and women affects the aggregate economy, the role of women for fertility decisions and human capital investments is particularly emphasized in the literature. Yet, we believe the body of theories could be expanded in several directions.

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1 Introduction

Theories of long-run economic development have increasingly relied on two central forces: population growth and human capital accumulation. Both forces depend on decisions made primarily within households: population growth is partially determined by households’ fertility choices (e.g., Becker & Barro 1988 ), while human capital accumulation is partially dependent on parental investments in child education and health (e.g., Lucas 1988 ).

In an earlier survey of the literature linking family decisions to economic growth, Grimm ( 2003 ) laments that “[m]ost models ignore the two-sex issue. Parents are modeled as a fictive asexual human being” (p. 154). Footnote 1 Since then, however, economists are increasingly recognizing that gender plays a fundamental role in how households reproduce and care for their children. As a result, many models of economic growth are now populated with men and women. The “fictive asexual human being” is a dying species. In this article, we survey this rich new landscape in theoretical macroeconomics, reviewing, in particular, micro-founded theories where gender inequality affects economic development.

For the purpose of this survey, gender inequality is defined as any exogenously imposed difference between male and female economic agents that, by shaping their behavior, has implications for aggregate economic growth. In practice, gender inequality is typically modeled as differences between men and women in endowments, constraints, or preferences.

Many articles review the literature on gender inequality and economic growth. Footnote 2 Typically, both the theoretical and empirical literature are discussed, but, in almost all cases, the vast empirical literature receives most of the attention. In addition, some of the surveys examine both sides of the two-way relationship between gender inequality and economic growth: gender equality as a cause of economic growth and economic growth as a cause of gender equality. As a result, most surveys end up only scratching the surface of each of these distinct strands of literature.

There is, by now, a large and insightful body of micro-founded theories exploring how gender equality affects economic growth. In our view, these theories merit a separate review. Moreover, they have not received sufficient attention in empirical work, which has largely developed independently (see also Cuberes & Teignier 2014 ). By reviewing the theoretical literature, we hope to motivate empirical researchers in finding new ways of putting these theories to test. In doing so, our work complements several existing surveys. Doepke & Tertilt ( 2016 ) review the theoretical literature that incorporates families in macroeconomic models, without focusing exclusively on models that include gender inequality, as we do. Greenwood, Guner and Vandenbroucke ( 2017 ), in turn, review the theoretical literature from the opposite direction; they study how macroeconomic models can explain changes in family outcomes. Doepke, Tertilt and Voena ( 2012 ) survey the political economy of women’s rights, but without focusing explicitly on their impact on economic development.

To be precise, the scope of this survey consists of micro-founded macroeconomic models where gender inequality (in endowments, constraints, preferences) affects economic growth—either by influencing the economy’s growth rate or shaping the transition paths between multiple income equilibria. As a result, this survey does not cover several upstream fields of partial-equilibrium micro models, where gender inequality affects several intermediate growth-related outcomes, such as labor supply, education, health. Additionally, by focusing on micro-founded macro models, we do not review studies in heterodox macroeconomics, including the feminist economics tradition using structuralist, demand-driven models. For recent overviews of this literature, see Kabeer ( 2016 ) and Seguino ( 2013 , 2020 ). Overall, we find very little dialogue between the neoclassical and feminist heterodox literatures. In this review, we will show that actually these two traditions have several points of contact and reach similar conclusions in many areas, albeit following distinct intellectual routes.

Although the incorporation of gender in macroeconomic models of economic growth is a recent development, the main gendered ingredients of those models are not new. They were developed in at least two strands of literature. First, since the 1960s, “new home economics” has applied the analytical toolbox of rational choice theory to decisions being made within the boundaries of the family (see, e.g., Becker 1960 , 1981 ). Footnote 3 A second literature strand, mostly based on empirical work at the micro level in developing countries, described clear patterns of gender-specific behavior within households that differed across regions of the developing world (see, e.g., Boserup 1970 ). Footnote 4 As we shall see, most of the (micro-founded) macroeconomic models reviewed in this article use several analytical mechanisms from "new home economics”; these mechanisms can typically rationalize several of the gender-specific regularities observed in early studies of developing countries. The growth theorist is then left to explore the aggregate implications for economic development.

The first models we present focus on gender discrimination in (or on access to) the labor market as a distortionary tax on talent. If talent is randomly distributed in the population, men and women are imperfect substitutes in aggregate production, and, as a consequence, gender inequality (as long as determined by non-market processes) will misallocate talent and lower incentives for female human capital formation. These theories do not rely on typical household functions such as reproduction and childrearing. Therefore, in these models, individuals are not organized into households. We review this literature in section 2 .

From there, we proceed to theories where the household is the unit of analysis. In sections 3 and 4 , we cover models that take the household as given and avoid marriage markets or other household formation institutions. This is a world where marriage (or cohabitation) is universal, consensual, and monogamous; families are nuclear, and spouses are matched randomly. The first articles in this tradition model the household as a unitary entity with joint preferences and interests, and with an efficient and centralized decision making process. Footnote 5 These theories posit how men and women specialize into different activities and how parents interact with their children. Section 3 reviews these theories. Over time, the literature has incorporated intra-household dynamics. Now, family members are allowed to have different preferences and interests; they bargain, either cooperatively or not, over family decisions. Now, the theorist recognizes power asymmetries between family members and analyzes how spouses bargain over decisions. Footnote 6 These articles are surveyed in section 4 .

The final set of articles we survey take into account how households are formed. These theories show how gender inequality can influence economic growth and long-run development through marriage market institutions and family formation patterns. Among other topics, this literature has studied ages at first marriage, relative supply of potential partners, monogamy and polygyny, arranged and consensual marriages, and divorce risk. Upon marriage, these models assume different bargaining processes between the spouses, or even unitary households, but they all recognize, in one way or another, that marriage, labor supply, consumption, and investment decisions are interdependent. We review these theories in section 5 .

Table 1 offers a schematic overview of the literature. To improve readability, the table only includes studies that we review in detail, with articles listed in order of appearance in the text. The table also abstracts from models’ extensions and sensitivity checks, and focuses exclusively on the causal pathways leading from gender inequality to economic growth.

The vast majority of theories reviewed argue that gender inequality is a barrier to economic development, particularly over the long run. The focus on long-run supply-side models reflects a recent effort by growth theorists to incorporate two stylized facts of economic development in the last two centuries: (i) a strong positive association between gender equality and income per capita (Fig. 1 ), and (ii) a strong association between the timing of the fertility transition and income per capita (Fig. 2 ). Footnote 7 Models that endogenize a fertility transition are able to generate a transition from a Malthusian regime of stagnation to a modern regime of sustained economic growth, thus replicating the development experience of human societies in the very long run (e.g., Galor 2005a , b ; Guinnane 2011 ). In contrast, demand-driven models in the heterodox and feminist traditions have often argued that gender wage discrimination and gendered sectoral and occupational segregation can be conducive to economic growth in semi-industrialized export-oriented economies. Footnote 8 In these settings—that fit well the experience of East and Southeast Asian economies—gender wage discrimination in female-intensive export industries reduces production costs and boosts exports, profits, and investment (Blecker & Seguino 2002 ; Seguino 2010 ).

figure 1

Income level and gender equality. Income is the natural log of per capita GDP (PPP-adjusted). The Gender Development Index is the ratio of gender-specific Human Development Indexes: female HDI/male HDI. Data are for the year 2000. Sources: UNDP

figure 2

Income level and timing of the fertility transition. Income is the natural log of per capita GDP (PPP-adjusted) in 2000. Years since fertility transition are the number of years between 2000 and the onset year of the fertility decline. See Reher ( 2004 ) for details. Sources: UNDP and Reher ( 2004 )

In most long-run, supply-side models reviewed here, irrespectively of the underlying source of gender differences (e.g., biology, socialization, discrimination), the opportunity cost of women’s time in foregone labor market earnings is lower than that of men. This gender gap in the value of time affects economic growth through two main mechanisms. First, when the labor market value of women’s time is relatively low, women will be in charge of childrearing and domestic work in the family. A low value of female time means that children are cheap. Fertility will be high, and economic growth will be low, both because population growth has a direct negative impact on long-run economic performance and because human capital accumulates at a slower pace (through the quantity-quality trade-off). Second, if parents expect relatively low returns to female education, due to women specializing in domestic activities, they will invest relatively less in the education of girls. In the words of Harriet Martineau, one of the first to describe this mechanism, “as women have none of the objects in life for which an enlarged education is considered requisite, the education is not given” (Martineau 1837 , p. 107). In the long run, lower human capital investments (on girls) lead to slower economic development.

Overall, gender inequality can be conceptualized as a source of inefficiency, to the extent that it results in the misallocation of productive factors, such as talent or labor, and as a source of negative externalities, when it leads to higher fertility, skewed sex ratios, or lower human capital accumulation.

We conclude, in section 6 , by examining the limitations of the current literature and pointing ways forward. Among them, we suggest deeper investigations of the role of (endogenous) technological change on gender inequality, as well as greater attention to the role and interests of men in affecting gender inequality and its impact on growth.

2 Gender discrimination and misallocation of talent

Perhaps the single most intuitive argument for why gender discrimination leads to aggregate inefficiency and hampers economic growth concerns the allocation of talent. Assume that talent is randomly distributed in the population. Then, an economy that curbs women’s access to education, market employment, or certain occupations draws talent from a smaller pool than an economy without such restrictions. Gender inequality can thus be viewed as a distortionary tax on talent. Indeed, occupational choice models with heterogeneous talent (as in Roy 1951 ) show that exogenous barriers to women’s participation in the labor market or access to certain occupations reduce aggregate productivity and per capita output (Cuberes & Teignier 2016 , 2017 ; Esteve-Volart 2009 ; Hsieh, Hurst, Jones and Klenow 2019 ).

Hsieh et al. ( 2019 ) represent the US economy with a model where individuals sort into occupations based on innate ability. Footnote 9 Gender and race identity, however, are a source of discrimination, with three forces preventing women and black men from choosing the occupations best fitting their comparative advantage. First, these groups face labor market discrimination, which is modeled as a tax on wages and can vary by occupation. Second, there is discrimination in human capital formation, with the costs of occupation-specific human capital being higher for certain groups. This cost penalty is a composite term encompassing discrimination or quality differentials in private or public inputs into children’s human capital. The third force are group-specific social norms that generate utility premia or penalties across occupations. Footnote 10

Assuming that the distribution of innate ability across race and gender is constant over time, Hsieh et al. ( 2019 ) investigate and quantify how declines in labor market discrimination, barriers to human capital formation, and changing social norms affect aggregate output and productivity in the United States, between 1960 and 2010. Over that period, their general equilibrium model suggests that around 40 percent of growth in per capita GDP and 90 percent of growth in labor force participation can be attributed to reductions in the misallocation of talent across occupations. Declining in barriers to human capital formation account for most of these effects, followed by declining labor market discrimination. Changing social norms, on the other hand, explain only a residual share of aggregate changes.

Two main mechanisms drive these results. First, falling discrimination improves efficiency through a better match between individual ability and occupation. Second, because discrimination is higher in high-skill occupations, when discrimination decreases, high-ability women and black men invest more in human capital and supply more labor to the market. Overall, better allocation of talent, rising labor supply, and faster human capital accumulation raise aggregate growth and productivity.

Other occupational choice models assuming gender inequality in access to the labor market or certain occupations reach similar conclusions. In addition to the mechanisms in Hsieh et al. ( 2019 ), barriers to women’s work in managerial or entrepreneurial occupations reduce average talent in these positions, resulting in aggregate losses in innovation, technology adoption, and productivity (Cuberes & Teignier 2016 , 2017 ; Esteve-Volart 2009 ). The argument can be readily applied to talent misallocation across sectors (Lee 2020 ). In Lee’s model, female workers face discrimination in the non-agricultural sector. As a result, talented women end up sorting into ill-suited agricultural activities. This distortion reduces aggregate productivity in agriculture. Footnote 11

To sum up, when talent is randomly distributed in the population, barriers to women’s education, employment, or occupational choice effectively reduce the pool of talent in the economy. According to these models, dismantling these gendered barriers can have an immediate positive effect on economic growth.

3 Unitary households: parents and children

In this section, we review models built upon unitary households. A unitary household maximizes a joint utility function subject to pooled household resources. Intra-household decision making is assumed away; the household is effectively a black-box. In this class of models, gender inequality stems from a variety of sources. It is rooted in differences in physical strength (Galor & Weil 1996 ; Hiller 2014 ; Kimura & Yasui 2010 ) or health (Bloom et al. 2015 ); it is embedded in social norms (Hiller 2014 ; Lagerlöf 2003 ), labor market discrimination (Cavalcanti & Tavares 2016 ), or son preference (Zhang, Zhang and Li 1999 ). In all these models, gender inequality is a barrier to long-run economic development.

Galor & Weil ( 1996 ) model an economy with three factors of production: capital, physical labor (“brawn”), and mental labor (“brain”). Men and women are equally endowed with brains, but men have more brawn. In economies starting with very low levels of capital per worker, women fully specialize in childrearing because their opportunity cost in terms of foregone market earnings is lower than men’s. Over time, the stock of capital per worker builds up due to exogenous technological progress. The degree of complementarity between capital and mental labor is higher than that between capital and physical labor; as the economy accumulates capital per worker, the returns to brain rise relative to the returns to brawn. As a result, the relative wages of women rise, increasing the opportunity cost of childrearing. This negative substitution effect dominates the positive income effect on the demand for children and fertility falls. Footnote 12 As fertility falls, capital per worker accumulates faster creating a positive feedback loop that generates a fertility transition and kick starts a process of sustained economic growth.

The model has multiple stable equilibria. An economy starting from a low level of capital per worker is caught in a Malthusian poverty trap of high fertility, low income per capita, and low relative wages for women. In contrast, an economy starting from a sufficiently high level of capital per worker will converge to a virtuous equilibrium of low fertility, high income per capita, and high relative wages for women. Through exogenous technological progress, the economy can move from the low to the high equilibrium.

Gender inequality in labor market access or returns to brain can slow down or even prevent the escape from the Malthusian equilibrium. Wage discrimination or barriers to employment would work against the rise of relative female wages and, therefore, slow down the takeoff to modern economic growth.

The Galor and Weil model predicts how female labor supply and fertility evolve in the course of development. First, (married) women start participating in market work and only afterwards does fertility start declining. Historically, however, in the US and Western Europe, the decline in fertility occurred before women’s participation rates in the labor market started their dramatic increase. In addition, these regions experienced a mid-twentieth century baby boom which seems at odds with Galor and Weil’s theory.

Both these stylized facts can be addressed by adding home production to the modeling, as do Kimura & Yasui ( 2010 ). In their article, as capital per worker accumulates, the market wage for brains rises and the economy moves through four stages of development. In the first stage, with a sufficiently low market wage, both husband and wife are fully dedicated to home production and childrearing. The household does not supply labor to the market; fertility is high and constant. In the second stage, as the wage rate increases, men enter the labor market (supplying both brawn and brain), whereas women remain fully engaged in home production and childrearing. But as men partially withdraw from home production, women have to replace them. As a result, their time cost of childrearing goes up. At this stage of development, the negative substitution effect of rising wages on fertility dominates the positive income effect. Fertility starts declining, even though women have not yet entered the labor market. The third stage arrives when men stop working in home production. There is complete specialization of labor by gender; men only do market work, and women only do home production and childrearing. As the market wage rises for men, the positive income effect becomes dominant and fertility increases; this mimics the baby-boom period of the mid-twentieth century. In the fourth and final stage, once sufficient capital is accumulated, women enter the market sector as wage-earners. The negative substitution effect of rising female opportunity costs dominates once again, and fertility declines. The economy moves from a “breadwinner model” to a “dual-earnings model”.

Another important form of gender inequality is discrimination against women in the form of lower wages, holding male and female productivity constant. Cavalcanti & Tavares ( 2016 ) estimate the aggregate effects of wage discrimination using a model-based general equilibrium representation of the US economy. In their model, women are assumed to be more productive in childrearing than men, so they pay the full time cost of this activity. In the labor market, even though men and women are equally productive, women receive only a fraction of the male wage rate—this is the wage discrimination assumption. Wage discrimination works as a tax on female labor supply. Because women work less than they would without discrimination, there is a negative level effect on per capita output. In addition, there is a second negative effect of wage discrimination operating through endogenous fertility. Since lower wages reduce women’s opportunity costs of childrearing, fertility is relatively high, and output per capita is relatively low. The authors calibrate the model to US steady state parameters and estimate large negative output costs of the gender wage gap. Reducing wage discrimination against women by 50 percent would raise per capita income by 35 percent, in the long run.

Human capital accumulation plays no role in Galor & Weil ( 1996 ), Kimura & Yasui ( 2010 ), and Cavalcanti & Tavares ( 2016 ). Each person is exogenously endowed with a unit of brains. The fundamental trade-off in the these models is between the income and substitution effects of rising wages on the demand for children. When Lagerlöf ( 2003 ) adds education investments to a gender-based model, an additional trade-off emerges: that between the quantity and the quality of children.

Lagerlöf ( 2003 ) models gender inequality as a social norm: on average, men have higher human capital than women. Confronted with this fact, parents play a coordination game in which it is optimal for them to reproduce the inequality in the next generation. The reason is that parents expect the future husbands of their daughters to be, on average, relatively more educated than the future wives of their sons. Because, in the model, parents care for the total income of their children’s future households, they respond by investing relatively less in daughters’ human capital. Here, gender inequality does not arise from some intrinsic difference between men and women. It is instead the result of a coordination failure: “[i]f everyone else behaves in a discriminatory manner, it is optimal for the atomistic player to do the same” (Lagerlöf 2003 , p. 404).

With lower human capital, women earn lower wages than men and are therefore solely responsible for the time cost of childrearing. But if, exogenously, the social norm becomes more gender egalitarian over time, the gender gap in parental educational investment decreases. As better educated girls grow up and become mothers, their opportunity costs of childrearing are higher. Parents trade-off the quantity of children by their quality; fertility falls and human capital accumulates. However, rising wages have an offsetting positive income effect on fertility because parents pay a (fixed) “goods cost” per child. The goods cost is proportionally more important in poor societies than in richer ones. As a result, in poor economies, growth takes off slowly because the positive income effect offsets a large chunk of the negative substitution effect. As economies grow richer, the positive income effect vanishes (as a share of total income), and fertility declines faster. That is, growth accelerates over time even if gender equality increases only linearly.

The natural next step is to model how the social norm on gender roles evolves endogenously during the course of development. Hiller ( 2014 ) develops such a model by combining two main ingredients: a gender gap in the endowments of brawn (as in Galor & Weil 1996 ) generates a social norm, which each parental couple takes as given (as in Lagerlöf 2003 ). The social norm evolves endogenously, but slowly; it tracks the gender ratio of labor supply in the market, but with a small elasticity. When the male-female ratio in labor supply decreases, stereotypes adjust and the norm becomes less discriminatory against women.

The model generates a U-shaped relationship between economic development and female labor force participation. Footnote 13 In the preindustrial stage, there is no education and all labor activities are unskilled, i.e., produced with brawn. Because men have a comparative advantage in brawn, they supply more labor to the market than women, who specialize in home production. This gender gap in labor supply creates a social norm that favors boys over girls. Over time, exogenous skill-biased technological progress raises the relative returns to brains, inducing parents to invest in their children’s education. At the beginning, however, because of the social norm, only boys become educated. The economy accumulates human capital and grows, generating a positive income effect that, in isolation, would eventually drive up parental investments in girls’ education. Footnote 14 But endogenous social norms move in the opposite direction. When only boys receive education, the gender gap in returns to market work increases, and women withdraw to home production. As female relative labor supply in the market drops, the social norm becomes more discriminatory against women. As a result, parents want to invest relatively less in their daughters’ education.

In the end, initial conditions determine which of the forces dominates, thereby shaping long-term outcomes. If, initially, the social norm is very discriminatory, its effect is stronger than the income effect; the economy becomes trapped in an equilibrium with high gender inequality and low per capita income. If, on the other hand, social norms are relatively egalitarian to begin with, then the income effect dominates, and the economy converges to an equilibrium with gender equality and high income per capita.

In the models reviewed so far, human capital or brain endowments can be understood as combining both education and health. Bloom et al. ( 2015 ) explicitly distinguish these two dimensions. Health affects labor market earnings because sick people are out of work more often (participation effect) and are less productive per hour of work (productivity effect). Female health is assumed to be worse than male health, implying that women’s effective wages are lower than men’s. As a result, women are solely responsible for childrearing. Footnote 15

The model produces two growth regimes: a Malthusian trap with high fertility and no educational investments; and a regime of sustained growth, declining fertility, and rising educational investments. Once wages reach a certain threshold, the economy goes through a fertility transition and education expansion, taking off from the Malthusian regime to the sustained growth regime.

Female health promotes growth in both regimes, and it affects the timing of the takeoff. The healthier women are, the earlier the economy takes off. The reason is that a healthier woman earns a higher effective wage and, consequently, faces higher opportunity costs of raising children. When female health improves, the rising opportunity costs of children reduce the wage threshold at which educational investments become attractive; the fertility transition and mass education periods occur earlier.

In contrast, improved male health slows down economic growth and delays the fertility transition. When men become healthier, there is only a income effect on the demand for children, without the negative substitution effect (because male childrearing time is already zero). The policy conclusion would be to redistribute health from men to women. However, the policy would impose a static utility cost on the household. Because women’s time allocation to market work is constrained by childrearing responsibilities (whereas men work full-time), the marginal effect of health on household income is larger for men than for women. From the household’s point of view, reducing the gender gap in health produces a trade-off between short-term income maximization and long-term economic development.

In an extension of the model, the authors endogeneize health investments, while keeping the assumption that women pay the full time cost of childrearing. Because women participate less in the labor market (due to childrearing duties), it is optimal for households to invest more in male health. A health gender gap emerges from rational household behavior that takes into account how time-constraints differ by gender; assuming taste-based discrimination against girls or gender-specific preferences is not necessary.

In the models reviewed so far, parents invest in their children’s human capital for purely altruistic reasons. This is captured in the models by assuming that parents derive utility directly from the quantity and quality of children. This is the classical representation of children as durable consumption goods (e.g., Becker 1960 ). In reality, of course, parents may also have egoistic motivations for investing in child quantity and quality. A typical example is that, when parents get old and retire, they receive support from their children. The quantity and quality of children will affect the size of old-age transfers and parents internalize this in their fertility and childcare behavior. According to this view, children are best understood as investment goods.

Zhang et al. ( 1999 ) build an endogenous growth model that incorporates the old-age support mechanism in parental decisions. Another innovative element of their model is that parents can choose the gender of their children. The implicit assumption is that sex selection technologies are freely available to all parents.

At birth, there is a gender gap in human capital endowment, favoring boys over girls. Footnote 16 In adulthood, a child’s human capital depends on the initial endowment and on the parents’ human capital. In addition, the probability that a child survives to adulthood is exogenous and can differ by gender.

Parents receive old-age support from children that survive until adulthood. The more human capital children have, the more old-age support they provide to their parents. Beyond this egoistic motive, parents also enjoy the quantity and the quality of children (altruistic motive). Son preference is modeled by boys having a higher relative weight in the altruistic-component of the parental utility function. In other words, in their enjoyment of children as consumer goods, parents enjoy “consuming” a son more than “consuming” a girl. Parents who prefer sons want more boys than girls. A larger preference for sons, a higher relative survival probability of boys, and a higher human capital endowment of boys positively affect the sex ratio at birth, because, in the parents’ perspective, all these forces increase the marginal utility of boys relative to girls.

Zhang et al. ( 1999 ) show that, if human capital transmission from parents to children is efficient enough, the economy grows endogenously. When boys have a higher human capital endowment than girls, and the survival probability of sons is not smaller than the survival probability of daughters, then only sons provide old-age support. Anticipating this, parents invest more in the human capital of their sons than on the human capital of their daughters. As a result, the gender gap in human capital at birth widens endogenously.

When only boys provide old-age support, an exogenous increase in son preference harms long-run economic growth. The reason is that, when son preference increases, parents enjoy each son relatively more and demand less old-age support from him. Other things equal, parents want to “consume” more sons now and less old-age support later. Because parents want more sons, the sex ratio at birth increases; but because each son provides less old-age support, human capital investments per son decrease (such that the gender gap in human capital narrows). At the aggregate level, the pace of human capital accumulation slows down and, in the long run, economic growth is lower. Thus, an exogenous increase in son preference increases the sex ratio at birth, and reduces human capital accumulation and long-run growth (although it narrows the gender gap in education).

In summary, in growth models with unitary households, gender inequality is closely linked to the division of labor between family members. If women earn relatively less in market activities, they specialize in childrearing and home production, while men specialize in market work. And precisely due to this division of labor, the returns to female educational investments are relatively low. These household behaviors translate into higher fertility and lower human capital and thus pose a barrier to long-run development.

4 Intra-household bargaining: husbands and wives

In this section, we review models populated with non-unitary households, where decisions are the result of bargaining between the spouses. There are two broad types of bargaining processes: non-cooperative, where spouses act independently or interact in a non-cooperative game that often leads to inefficient outcomes (e.g., Doepke & Tertilt 2019 , Heath & Tan 2020 ); and cooperative, where the spouses are assumed to achieve an efficient outcome (e.g., De la Croix & Vander Donckt 2010 ; Diebolt & Perrin 2013 ). As in the previous section, all of these non-unitary models take the household as given, thereby abstracting from marriage markets or other household formation institutions, which will be discussed separately in section 5 . When preferences differ by gender, bargaining between the spouses matters for economic growth. If women care more about child quality than men do and human capital accumulation is the main engine of growth, then empowering women leads to faster economic growth (Prettner & Strulik 2017 ). If, however, men and women have similar preferences but are imperfect substitutes in the production of household public goods, then empowering women has an ambiguous effect on economic growth (Doepke & Tertilt 2019 ).

A separate channel concerns the intergenerational transmission of human capital and woman’s role as the main caregiver of children. If the education of the mother matters more than the education of the father in the production of children’s human capital, then empowering women will be conducive to growth (Agénor 2017 ; Diebolt & Perrin 2013 ), with the returns to education playing a crucial role in the political economy of female empowerment (Doepke & Tertilt 2009 ).

However, different dimensions of gender inequality have different growth impacts along the development process (De la Croix & Vander Donckt 2010 ). Policies that improve gender equality across many dimensions can be particularly effective for economic growth by reaping complementarities and positive externalities (Agénor 2017 ).

The idea that women might have stronger preferences for child-related expenditures than men can be easily incorporated in a Beckerian model of fertility. The necessary assumption is that women place a higher weight on child quality (relative to child quantity) than men do. Prettner & Strulik ( 2017 ) build a unified growth theory model with collective households. Men and women have different preferences, but they achieve efficient cooperation based on (reduced-form) bargaining parameters. The authors study the effect of two types of preferences: (i) women are assumed to have a relative preference for child quality, while men have a relative preference for child quantity; and (ii) parents are assumed to have a relative preference for the education of sons over the education of daughters. In addition, it is assumed that the time cost of childcare borne by men cannot be above that borne by women (but it could be the same).

When women have a relative preference for child quality, increasing female empowerment speeds up the economy’s escape from a Malthusian trap of high fertility, low education, and low income per capita. When female empowerment increases (exogenously), a woman’s relative preference for child quality has a higher impact on household’s decisions. As a consequence, fertility falls, human capital accumulates, and the economy starts growing. The model also predicts that the more preferences for child quality differ between husband and wife, the more effective is female empowerment in raising long-run per capita income, because the sooner the economy escapes the Malthusian trap. This effect is not affected by whether parents have a preference for the education of boys relative to that of girls. If, however, men and women have similar preferences with respect to the quantity and quality of their children, then female empowerment does not affect the timing of the transition to the sustained growth regime.

Strulik ( 2019 ) goes one step further and endogeneizes why men seem to prefer having more children than women. The reason is a different preference for sexual activity: other things equal, men enjoy having sex more than women. Footnote 17 When cheap and effective contraception is not available, a higher male desire for sexual activity explains why men also prefer to have more children than women. In a traditional economy, where no contraception is available, fertility is high, while human capital and economic growth are low. When female bargaining power increases, couples reduce their sexual activity, fertility declines, and human capital accumulates faster. Faster human capital accumulation increases household income and, as a consequence, the demand for contraception goes up. As contraception use increases, fertility declines further. Eventually, the economy undergoes a fertility transition and moves to a modern regime with low fertility, widespread use of contraception, high human capital, and high economic growth. In the modern regime, because contraception is widely used, men’s desire for sex is decoupled from fertility. Both sex and children cost time and money. When the two are decoupled, men prefer to have more sex at the expense of the number of children. There is a reversal in the gender gap in desired fertility. When contraceptives are not available, men desire more children than women; once contraceptives are widely used, men desire fewer children than women. If women are more empowered, the transition from the traditional equilibrium to the modern equilibrium occurs faster.

Both Prettner & Strulik ( 2017 ) and Strulik ( 2019 ) rely on gender-specific preferences. In contrast, Doepke & Tertilt ( 2019 ) are able to explain gender-specific expenditure patterns without having to assume that men and women have different preferences. They set up a non-cooperative model of household decision making and ask whether more female control of household resources leads to higher child expenditures and, thus, to economic development. Footnote 18

In their model, household public goods are produced with two inputs: time and goods. Instead of a single home-produced good (as in most models), there is a continuum of household public goods whose production technologies differ. Some public goods are more time-intensive to produce, while others are more goods-intensive. Each specific public good can only be produced by one spouse—i.e., time and good inputs are not separable. Women face wage discrimination in the labor market, so their opportunity cost of time is lower than men’s. As a result, women specialize in the production of the most time-intensive household public goods (e.g., childrearing activities), while men specialize in the production of goods-intensive household public goods (e.g., housing infrastructure). Notice that, because the household is non-cooperative, there is not only a division of labor between husband and wife, but also a division of decision making, since ultimately each spouse decides how much to provide of his or her public goods.

When household resources are redistributed from men to women (i.e., from the high-wage spouse to the low-wage spouse), women provide more public goods, in relative terms. It is ambiguous, however, whether the total provision of public goods increases with the re-distributive transfer. In a classic model of gender-specific preferences, a wife increases child expenditures and her own private consumption at the expense of the husband’s private consumption. In Doepke & Tertilt ( 2019 ), however, the rise in child expenditures (and time-intensive public goods in general) comes at the expense of male consumption and male-provided public goods.

Parents contribute to the welfare of the next generation in two ways: via human capital investments (time-intensive, typically done by the mother) and bequests of physical capital (goods-intensive, typically done by the father). Transferring resources to women increases human capital, but reduces the stock of physical capital. The effect of such transfers on economic growth depends on whether the aggregate production function is relatively intensive in human capital or in physical capital. If aggregate production is relatively human capital intensive, then transfers to women boost economic growth; if it is relatively intensive in physical capital, then transfers to women may reduce economic growth.

There is an interesting paradox here. On the one hand, transfers to women will be growth-enhancing in economies where production is intensive in human capital. These would be more developed, knowledge intensive, service economies. On the other hand, the positive growth effect of transfers to women increases with the size of the gender wage gap, that is, decreases with female empowerment. But the more advanced, human capital intensive economies are also the ones with more female empowerment (i.e., lower gender wage gaps). In other words, in settings where human capital investments are relatively beneficial, the contribution of female empowerment to human capital accumulation is reduced. Overall, Doepke and Tertilt’s ( 2019 ) model predicts that female empowerment has at best a limited positive effect and at worst a negative effect on economic growth.

Heath & Tan ( 2020 ) argue that, in a non-cooperative household model, income transfers to women may increase female labor supply. Footnote 19 This result may appear counter-intuitive at first, because in collective household models unearned income unambiguously reduces labor supply through a negative income effect. In Heath and Tan’s model, husband and wife derive utility from leisure, consuming private goods, and consuming a household public good. The spouses decide separately on labor supply and monetary contributions to the household public good. Men and women are identical in preferences and behavior, but women have limited control over resources, with a share of their income being captured by the husband. Female control over resources (i.e., autonomy) depends positively on the wife’s relative contribution to household income. Thus, an income transfer to the wife, keeping husband unearned income constant, raises the fraction of her own income that she privately controls. This autonomy effect unambiguously increases women’s labor supply, because the wife can now reap an additional share of her wage bill. Whenever the autonomy effect dominates the (negative) income effect, female labor supply increases. The net effect will be heterogeneous over the wage distribution, but the authors show that aggregate female labor supply is always weakly larger after the income transfer.

Diebolt & Perrin ( 2013 ) assume cooperative bargaining between husband and wife, but do not rely on sex-specific preferences or differences in ability. Men and women are only distinguished by different uses of their time endowments, with females in charge of all childrearing activities. In line with this labor division, the authors further assume that only the mother’s human capital is inherited by the child at birth. On top of the inherited maternal endowment, individuals can accumulate human capital during adulthood, through schooling. The higher the initial human capital endowment, the more effective is the accumulation of human capital via schooling.

A woman’s bargaining power in marriage determines her share in total household consumption and is a function of the relative female human capital of the previous generation. An increase in the human capital of mothers relative to that of fathers has two effects. First, it raises the incentives for human capital accumulation of the next generation, because inherited maternal human capital makes schooling more effective. Second, it raises the bargaining power of the next generation of women and, because women’s consumption share increases, boosts the returns on women’s education. The second effect is not internalized in women’s time allocation decisions; it is an intergenerational externality. Thus, an exogenous increase in women’s bargaining power would promote economic growth by speeding up the accumulation of human capital across overlapping generations.

De la Croix & Vander Donckt ( 2010 ) contribute to the literature by clearly distinguishing between different gender gaps: a gap in the probability of survival, a wage gap, a social and institutional gap, and a gender education gap. The first three are exogenously given, while the fourth is determined within the model.

By assumption, men and women have identical preferences and ability, but women pay the full time cost of childrearing. As in a typical collective household model, bargaining power is partially determined by the spouses’ earnings potential (i.e., their levels of human capital and their wage rates). But there is also a component of bargaining power that is exogenous and captures social norms that discriminate against women—this is the social and institutional gender gap.

Husbands and wives bargain over fertility and human capital investments for their children. A standard Beckerian result emerges: parents invest relatively less in the education of girls, because girls will be more time-constrained than boys and, therefore, the female returns to education are lower in relative terms.

There are at least two regimes in the economy: a corner regime and an interior regime. The corner regime consists of maximum fertility, full gender specialization (no women in the labor market), and large gender gaps in education (no education for girls). Reducing the wage gap or the social and institutional gap does not help the economy escaping this regime. Women are not in labor force, so the wage gap is meaningless. The social and institutional gap will determine women’s share in household consumption, but does not affect fertility and growth. At this stage, the only effective instruments for escaping the corner regime are reducing the gender survival gap or reducing child mortality. Reducing the gender survival gap increases women’s lifespan, which increases their time budget and attracts them to the labor market. Reducing child mortality decreases the time costs of kids, therefore drawing women into the labor market. In both cases, fertility decreases.

In the interior regime, fertility is below the maximum, women’s labor supply is above zero, and both boys and girls receive education. In this regime, with endogenous bargaining power, reducing all gender gaps will boost economic growth. Footnote 20 Thus, depending on the growth regime, some gender gaps affect economic growth, while others do not. Accordingly, the policy-maker should tackle different dimensions of gender inequality at different stages of the development process.

Agénor ( 2017 ) presents a computable general equilibrium that includes many of the elements of gender inequality reviewed so far. An important contribution of the model is to explicitly add the government as an agent whose policies interact with family decisions and, therefore, will impact women’s time allocation. Workers produce a market good and a home good and are organized in collective households. Bargaining power depends on the spouses’ relative human capital levels. By assumption, there is gender discrimination in market wages against women. On top, mothers are exclusively responsible for home production and childrearing, which takes the form of time spent improving children’s health and education. But public investments in education and health also improve these outcomes during childhood. Likewise, public investment in public infrastructure contributes positively to home production. In particular, the ratio of public infrastructure capital stock to private capital stock is a substitute for women’s time in home production. The underlying idea is that improving sanitation, transportation, and other infrastructure reduces time spent in home production. Health status in adulthood depends on health status in childhood, which, in turn, relates positively to mother’s health, her time inputs into childrearing, and government spending. Children’s human capital depends on similar factors, except that mother’s human capital replaces her health as an input. Additionally, women are assumed to derive less utility from current consumption and more utility from children’s health relative to men. Wives are also assumed to live longer than their husbands, which further down-weights female’s emphasis on current consumption. The final gendered assumption is that mother’s time use is biased towards boys. This bias alone creates a gender gap in education and health. As adults, women’s relative lower health and human capital are translated into relative lower bargaining power in household decisions.

Agénor ( 2017 ) calibrates this rich setup for Benin, a low income country, and runs a series of policy experiments on different dimensions of gender inequality: a fall in childrearing costs, a fall in gender pay discrimination, a fall in son bias in mother’s time allocation, and an exogenous increase in female bargaining power. Footnote 21 Interestingly, despite all policies improving gender equality in separate dimensions, not all unambiguously stimulate economic growth. For example, falling childrearing costs raise savings and private investments, which are growth-enhancing, but increase fertility (as children become ‘cheaper’) and reduce maternal time investment per child, thus reducing growth. In contrast, a fall in gender pay discrimination always leads to higher growth, through higher household income that, in turn, boosts savings, tax revenues, and public spending. Higher public spending further contributes to improved health and education of the next generation. Lastly, Agénor ( 2017 ) simulates the effect of a combined policy that improves gender equality in all domains simultaneously. Due to complementarities and positive externalities across dimensions, the combined policy generates more economic growth than the sum of the individual policies. Footnote 22

In the models reviewed so far, men are passive observers of women’s empowerment. Doepke & Tertilt ( 2009 ) set up an interesting political economy model of women’s rights, where men make the decisive choice. Their model is motivated by the fact that, historically, the economic rights of women were expanded before their political rights. Because the granting of economic rights empowers women in the household, and this was done before women were allowed to participate in the political process, the relevant question is why did men willingly share their power with their wives?

Doepke & Tertilt ( 2009 ) answer this question by arguing that men face a fundamental trade-off. On the one hand, husbands would vote for their wives to have no rights whatsoever, because husbands prefer as much intra-household bargaining power as possible. But, on the other hand, fathers would vote for their daughters to have economic rights in their future households. In addition, fathers want their children to marry highly educated spouses, and grandfathers want their grandchildren to be highly educated. By assumption, men and women have different preferences, with women having a relative preference for child quality over quantity. Accordingly, men internalize that, when women become empowered, human capital investments increase, making their children and grandchildren better-off.

Skill-biased (exogenous) technological progress that raises the returns to education over time can shift male incentives along this trade-off. When the returns to education are low, men prefer to make all decisions on their own and deny all rights to women. But once the returns to education are sufficiently high, men voluntarily share their power with women by granting them economic rights. As a result, human capital investments increase and the economy grows faster.

In summary, gender inequality in labor market earnings often implies power asymmetries within the household, with men having more bargaining power than women. If preferences differ by gender and female preferences are more conducive to development, then empowering women is beneficial for growth. When preferences are the same and the bargaining process is non-cooperative, the implications are less clear-cut, and more context-specific. If, in addition, women’s empowerment is curtailed by law (e.g., restrictions on women’s economic rights), then it is important to understand the political economy of women’s rights, in which men are crucial actors.

5 Marriage markets and household formation

Two-sex models of economic growth have largely ignored how households are formed. The marriage market is not explicitly modeled: spouses are matched randomly, marriage is universal and monogamous, and families are nuclear. In reality, however, household formation patterns vary substantially across societies, with some of these differences extending far back in history. For example, Hajnal ( 1965 , 1982 ) described a distinct household formation pattern in preindustrial Northwestern Europe (often referred to as the “European Marriage Pattern”) characterized by: (i) late ages at first marriage for women, (ii) most marriages done under individual consent, and (iii) neolocality (i.e., upon marriage, the bride and the groom leave their parental households to form a new household). In contrast, marriage systems in China and India consisted of: (i) very early female ages at first marriage, (ii) arranged marriages, and (iii) patrilocality (i.e., the bride joins the parental household of the groom).

Economic historians argue that the “European Marriage Pattern” empowered women, encouraging their participation in market activities and reducing fertility levels. While some view this as one of the deep-rooted factors explaining Northwestern Europe’s earlier takeoff to sustained economic growth (e.g., Carmichael, de Pleijt, van Zanden and De Moor 2016 ; De Moor & Van Zanden 2010 ; Hartman 2004 ), others have downplayed the long-run significance of this marriage pattern (e.g., Dennison & Ogilvie 2014 ; Ruggles 2009 ). Despite this lively debate, the topic has been largely ignored by growth theorists. The few exceptions are Voigtländer and Voth ( 2013 ), Edlund and Lagerlöf ( 2006 ), and Tertilt ( 2005 , 2006 ).

After exploring different marriage institutions, we zoom in on contemporary monogamous and consensual marriage and review models where gender inequality affects economic growth through marriage markets that facilitate household formation (Du & Wei 2013 ; Grossbard & Pereira 2015 ; Grossbard-Shechtman 1984 ; Guvenen & Rendall 2015 ). In contrast with the previous two sections, where the household is the starting point of the analysis, the literature on marriage markets and household formation recognizes that marriage, labor supply, and investment decisions are interlinked. The analysis of these interlinkages is sometimes done with unitary households (upon marriage) (Du & Wei 2013 ; Guvenen & Rendall 2015 ), or with non-cooperative models of individual decision-making within households (Grossbard & Pereira 2015 ; Grossbard-Shechtman 1984 ).

Voigtländer and Voth ( 2013 ) argue that the emergence of the “European Marriage Pattern” is a direct consequence of the mid-fourteen century Black Death. They set up a two-sector agricultural economy consisting of physically demanding cereal farming, and less physically demanding pastoral production. The economy is populated by many male and female peasants and by a class of idle, rent-maximizing landlords. Female peasants are heterogeneous with respect to physical strength, but, on average, are assumed to have less brawn relative to male peasants and, thus, have a comparative advantage in the pastoral sector. Both sectors use land as a production input, although the pastoral sector is more land-intensive than cereal production. All land is owned by the landlords, who can rent it out for peasant cereal farming, or use it for large-scale livestock farming, for which they hire female workers. Crucially, women can only work and earn wages in the pastoral sector as long as they are unmarried. Footnote 23 Peasant women decide when to marry and, upon marriage, a peasant couple forms a new household, where husband and wife both work on cereal farming, and have children at a given time frequency. Thus, the only contraceptive method available is delaying marriage. Because women derive utility from consumption and children, they face a trade-off between earned income and marriage.

Initially, the economy rests in a Malthusian regime, where land-labor ratios are relatively low, making the land-intensive pastoral sector unattractive and depressing relative female wages. As a result, women marry early and fertility is high. The initial regime ends in 1348–1350, when the Black Death kills between one third and half of Europe’s population, exogenously generating land abundance and, therefore, raising the relative wages of female labor in pastoral production. Women postpone marriage to reap higher wages, and fertility decreases—moving the economy to a regime of late marriages and low fertility.

In addition to late marital ages and reduced fertility, another important feature of the “European Marriage Pattern” was individual consent for marriage. Edlund and Lagerlöf ( 2006 ) study how rules of consent for marriage influence long-run economic development. In their model, marriages can be formed according to two types of consent rules: individual consent or parental consent. Under individual consent, young people are free to marry whomever they wish, while, under parental consent, their parents are in charge of arranging the marriage. Depending on the prevailing rule, the recipient of the bride-price differs. Under individual consent, a woman receives the bride-price from her husband, whereas, under parental consent, her father receives the bride-price from the father of the groom. Footnote 24 In both situations, the father of the groom owns the labor income of his son and, therefore, pays the bride-price, either directly, under parental consent, or indirectly, under individual consent. Under individual consent, the father needs to transfer resources to his son to nudge him into marrying. Thus, individual consent implies a transfer of resources from the old to the young and from men to women, relative to the rule of parental consent. Redistributing resources from the old to the young boosts long-run economic growth. Because the young have a longer timespan to extract income from their children’s labor, they invest relatively more in the human capital of the next generation. In addition, under individual consent, the reallocation of resources from men to women can have additional positive effects on growth, by increasing women’s bargaining power (see section 4 ), although this channel is not explicitly modeled in Edlund and Lagerlöf ( 2006 ).

Tertilt ( 2005 ) explores the effects of polygyny on long-run development through its impact on savings and fertility. In her model, parental consent applies to women, while individual consent applies to men. There is a competitive marriage market where fathers sell their daughters and men buy their wives. As each man is allowed (and wants) to marry several wives, a positive bride-price emerges in equilibrium. Footnote 25 Upon marriage, the reproductive rights of the bride are transferred from her father to her husband, who makes all fertility decisions on his own and, in turn, owns the reproductive rights of his daughters. From a father’s perspective, daughters are investments goods; they can be sold in the marriage market, at any time. This feature generates additional demand for daughters, which increases overall fertility, and reduces the incentives to save, which decreases the stock of physical capital. Under monogamy, in contrast, the equilibrium bride-price is negative (i.e., a dowry). The reason is that maintaining unmarried daughters is costly for their fathers, so they are better-off paying a (small enough) dowry to their future husbands. In this setting, the economic returns to daughters are lower and, consequently, so is the demand for children. Fertility decreases and savings increase. Thus, moving from polygny to monogamy lowers population growth and raises the capital stock in the long run, which translates into higher output per capita in the steady state.

Instead of enforcing monogamy in a traditionally polygynous setting, an alternative policy is to transfer marriage consent from fathers to daughters. Tertilt ( 2006 ) shows that when individual consent is extended to daughters, such that fathers do not receive the bride-price anymore, the consequences are qualitatively similar to a ban on polygyny. If fathers stop receiving the bride-price, they save more physical capital. In the long run, per capita output is higher when consent is transferred to daughters.

Grossbard-Shechtman ( 1984 ) develops the first non-cooperative model where (monogamous) marriage, home production, and labor supply decisions are interdependent. Footnote 26 Spouses are modeled as separate agents deciding over production and consumption. Marriage becomes an implicit contract for ‘work-in-household’ (WiHo), defined as “an activity that benefits another household member [typically a spouse] who could potentially compensate the individual for these efforts” (Grossbard 2015 , p. 21). Footnote 27 In particular, each spouse decides how much labor to supply to market work and WiHo, and how much labor to demand from the other spouse for WiHo. Through this lens, spousal decisions over the intra-marriage distribution of consumption and WiHo are akin to well-known principal-agent problems faced between firms and workers. In the marriage market equilibrium, a spouse benefiting from WiHo (the principal) must compensate the spouse producing it (the agent) via intra-household transfers (of goods or leisure). Footnote 28 Grossbard-Shechtman ( 1984 ) and Grossbard ( 2015 ) show that, under these conditions, the ratio of men to women (i.e., the sex ratio) in the marriage market is inversely related to female labor supply to the market. The reason is that, as the pool of potential wives shrinks, prospective husbands have to increase compensation for female WiHo. From the potential wife’s point of view, as the equilibrium price for her WiHo increases, market work becomes less attractive. Conversely, when sex ratios are lower, female labor supply outside the home increases. Although the model does not explicit derive growth implications, the relative increase in female labor supply is expected to be beneficial for economic growth, as argued by many of the theories reviewed so far.

In an extension of this framework, Grossbard & Pereira ( 2015 ) analyze how sex ratios affect gendered savings over the marital life-cycle. Assuming that women supply a disproportionate amount of labor for WiHo (due, for example, to traditional gender norms), the authors show that men and women will have very distinct saving trajectories. A higher sex ratio increases savings by single men, who anticipate higher compensation transfers for their wives’ WiHo, whereas it decreases savings by single women, who anticipate receiving those transfers upon marriage. But the pattern flips after marriage: precautionary savings raise among married women, because the possibility of marriage dissolution entails a loss of income from WiHo. The opposite effect happens for married men: marriage dissolution would imply less expenditures in the future. The higher the sex ratio, the higher will be the equilibrium compensation paid by husbands for their wives’ WiHo. Therefore, the sex ratio will positively affect savings among single men and married women, but negatively affect savings among single women and married men. The net effect on the aggregate savings rate and on economic growth will depend on the relative size of these demographic groups.

In a related article, Du & Wei ( 2013 ) propose a model where higher sex ratios worsen marriage markets prospects for young men and their families, who react by increasing savings. Women in turn reduce savings. However, because sex ratios shift the composition of the population in favor of men (high saving type) relative to women (low saving type) and men save additionally to compensate for women’s dis-saving, aggregate savings increase unambiguously with sex ratios.

In Guvenen & Rendall ( 2015 ), female education is, in part, demanded as insurance against divorce risk. The reason is that divorce laws often protect spouses’ future labor market earnings (i.e., returns to human capital), but force them to share their physical assets. Because, in the model, women are more likely to gain custody of their children after divorce, they face higher costs from divorce relative to their husbands. Therefore, the higher the risk of divorce, the more women invest in human capital, as insurance against a future vulnerable economic position. Guvenen & Rendall ( 2015 ) shows that, over time, divorce risk has increased (for example, consensual divorce became replaced by unilateral divorce in most US states in the 1970s). In the aggregate, higher divorce risk boosted female education and female labor supply.

In summary, the rules regulating marriage and household formation carry relevant theoretical consequences for economic development. While the few studies on this topic have focused on age at marriage, consent rules and polygyny, and the interaction between sex ratios, marriage, and labor supply, other features of the marriage market remain largely unexplored (Borella, De Nardi and Yang 2018 ). Growth theorists would benefit from further incorporating theories of household formation in gendered macro models. Footnote 29

6 Conclusion

In this article, we surveyed micro-founded theories linking gender inequality to economic development. This literature offers many plausible mechanisms through which inequality between men and women affects the aggregate economy (see Table 1 ). Yet, we believe the body of theories could be expanded in several directions. We discuss them below and highlight lessons for policy.

The first direction for future research concerns control over fertility. In models where fertility is endogenous, households are always able to achieve their preferred number of children (see Strulik 2019 , for an exception). The implicit assumption is that there is a free and infallible method of fertility control available for all households—a view rejected by most demographers. The gap between desired fertility and achieved fertility can be endogeneized at three levels. First, at the societal level, the diffusion of particular contraceptive methods may be influenced by cultural and religious norms. Second, at the household level, fertility control may be object of non-cooperative bargaining between the spouses, in particular, for contraceptive methods that only women perfectly observe (Ashraf, Field and Lee 2014 ; Doepke & Kindermann 2019 ). More generally, the role of asymmetric information within the household is not yet explored (Walther 2017 ). Third, if parents have preferences over the gender composition of their offspring, fertility is better modeled as a sequential and uncertain process, where household size is likely endogenous to the sex of the last born child (Hazan & Zoabi 2015 ).

A second direction worth exploring concerns gender inequality in a historical perspective. In models with multiple equilibria, an economy’s path is often determined by its initial level of gender equality. Therefore, it would be useful to develop theories explaining why initial conditions varied across societies. In particular, there is a large literature on economic and demographic history documenting how systems of marriage and household formation differed substantially across preindustrial societies (e.g., De Moor & Van Zanden 2010 ; Hajnal 1965 , 1982 ; Hartman 2004 ; Ruggles 2009 ). In our view, more theoretical work is needed to explain both the origins and the consequences of these historical systems.

A third avenue for future research concerns the role of technological change. In several models, technological change is the exogenous force that ultimately erodes gender gaps in education or labor supply (e.g., Bloom et al. 2015 ; Doepke & Tertilt 2009 ; Galor & Weil 1996 ). For that to happen, technological progress is assumed to be skill-biased, thus raising the returns to education—or, in other words, favoring brain over brawn. As such, new technologies make male advantage in physical strength ever more irrelevant, while making female time spent on childrearing and housework ever more expensive. Moreover, recent technological progress increased the efficiency of domestic activities, thereby relaxing women’s time constraints (e.g., Cavalcanti & Tavares 2008 ; Greenwood, Seshadri and Yorukoglu 2005 ). These mechanisms are plausible, but other aspects of technological change need not be equally favorable for women. In many countries, for example, the booming science, technology, and engineering sectors tend to be particularly male-intensive. And Tejani & Milberg ( 2016 ) provide evidence for developing countries that as manufacturing industries become more capital intensive, their female employment share decreases.

Even if current technological progress is assumed to weaken gender gaps, historically, technology may have played exactly the opposite role. If technology today is more complementary to brain, in the past it could have been more complementary to brawn. An example is the plow that, relative to alternative technologies for field preparation (e.g., hoe, digging stick), requires upper body strength, on which men have a comparative advantage over women (Alesina, Giuliano and Nunn 2013 ; Boserup 1970 ). Another, even more striking example, is the invention of agriculture itself—the Neolithic Revolution. The transition from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle to sedentary agriculture involved a relative loss of status for women (Dyble et al. 2015 ; Hansen, Jensen and Skovsgaard 2015 ). One explanation is that property rights on land were captured by men, who had an advantage on physical strength and, consequently, on physical violence. Thus, in the long view of human history, technological change appears to have shifted from being male-biased towards being female-biased. Endogeneizing technological progress and its interaction with gender inequality is a promising avenue for future research.

Fourth, open economy issues are still almost entirely absent. An exception is Rees & Riezman ( 2012 ), who model the effect of globalization on economic growth. Whether global capital flows generate jobs primarily in female or male intensive sectors matters for long-run growth. If globalization creates job opportunities for women, their bargaining power increases and households trade off child quantity by child quality. Fertility falls, human capital accumulates, and long-run per capita output is high. If, on the other hand, globalization creates jobs for men, their intra-household power increases; fertility increases, human capital decreases, and steady-state income per capita is low. The literature would benefit from engaging with open economy demand-driven models of the feminist tradition, such as Blecker & Seguino ( 2002 ), Seguino ( 2010 ). Other fruitful avenues for future research on open economy macro concern gender analysis of global value chains (Barrientos 2019 ), gendered patterns of international migration (Cortes 2015 ; Cortes & Tessada 2011 ), and the diffusion of gender norms through globalization (Beine, Docquier and Schiff 2013 ; Klasen 2020 ; Tuccio & Wahba 2018 ).

A final point concerns the role of men in this literature. In most theoretical models, gender inequality is not the result of an active male project that seeks the domination of women. Instead, inequality emerges as a rational best response to some underlying gender gap in endowments or constraints. Then, as the underlying gap becomes less relevant—for example, due to skill-biased technological change—, men passively relinquish their power (see Doepke & Tertilt 2009 , for an exception). There is never a male backlash against the short-term power loss that necessarily comes with female empowerment. In reality, it is more likely that men actively oppose losing power and resources towards women (Folbre 2020 ; Kabeer 2016 ; Klasen 2020 ). This possibility has not yet been explored in formal models, even though it could threaten the typical virtuous cycle between gender equality and growth. If men are forward-looking, and the short-run losses outweigh the dynamic gains from higher growth, they might ensure that women never get empowered to begin with. Power asymmetries tend to be sticky, because “any group that is able to claim a disproportionate share of the gains from cooperation can develop social institutions to fortify their position” (Folbre 2020 , p. 199). For example, Eswaran & Malhotra ( 2011 ) set up a household decision model where men use domestic violence against their wives as a tool to enhance male bargaining power. Thus, future theories should recognize more often that men have a vested interest on the process of female empowerment.

More generally, policymakers should pay attention to the possibility of a male backlash as an unintended consequence of female empowerment policies (Erten & Keskin 2018 ; Eswaran & Malhotra 2011 ). Likewise, whereas most theories reviewed here link lower fertility to higher economic growth, the relationship is non-monotonic. Fertility levels below the replacement rate will eventually generate aggregate social costs in the form of smaller future workforces, rapidly ageing societies, and increased pressure on welfare systems, to name a few.

Many theories presented in this survey make another important practical point: public policies should recognize that gender gaps in separate dimensions complement and reinforce one another and, therefore, have to be dealt with simultaneously. A naïve policy targeting a single gap in isolation is unlikely to have substantial growth effects in the short run. Typically, inequalities in separate dimensions are not independent from each other (Agénor 2017 ; Bandiera & Does 2013 ; Duflo 2012 ; Kabeer 2016 ). For example, if credit-constrained women face weak property rights, are unable to access certain markets, and have mobility and time constraints, then the marginal return to capital may nevertheless be larger for men. Similarly, the return to male education may well be above the female return if demand for female labor is low or concentrated in sectors with low productivity. In sum, “the fact that women face multiple constraints means that relaxing just one may not improve outcomes” (Duflo 2012 , p. 1076).

Promising policy directions that would benefit from further macroeconomic research are the role of public investments in physical infrastructure and care provision (Agénor 2017 ; Braunstein, Bouhia and Seguino 2020 ), gender-based taxation (Guner, Kaygusuz and Ventura 2012 ; Meier & Rainer 2015 ), and linkages between gender equality and pro-environmental agendas (Matsumoto 2014 ).

See Echevarria & Moe ( 2000 ) for a similar complaint that “theories of economic growth and development have consistently neglected to include gender as a variable” (p. 77).

A non-exhaustive list includes Bandiera & Does ( 2013 ), Braunstein ( 2013 ), Cuberes & Teignier ( 2014 ), Duflo ( 2012 ), Kabeer ( 2016 ), Kabeer & Natali ( 2013 ), Klasen ( 2018 ), Seguino ( 2013 , 2020 ), Sinha et al. ( 2007 ), Stotsky ( 2006 ), World Bank ( 2001 , 2011 ).

For an in-depth history of “new home economics” see Grossbard-Shechtman ( 2001 ) and Grossbard ( 2010 , 2011 ).

For recent empirical reviews see Duflo ( 2012 ) and Doss ( 2013 ).

Although the unitary approach has being rejected on theoretical (e.g., Echevarria & Moe 2000 ; Folbre 1986 ; Knowles 2013 ; Sen 1989 ) and empirical grounds (e.g., Doss 2013 ; Duflo 2003 ; Lundberg et al. 1997 ), these early models are foundational to the subsequent literature. As it turns out, some of the key mechanisms survive in non-unitary theories of the household.

For nice conceptual perspectives on conflict and cooperation in households see Sen ( 1989 ), Grossbard ( 2011 ), and Folbre ( 2020 ).

The relationship depicted in Fig. 1 is robust to using other composite measures of gender equality (e.g., UNDP’s Gender Inequality Index or OECD’s Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) (see Branisa, Klasen and Ziegler 2013 )), and other years besides 2000. In Fig. 2 , the linear prediction explains 56 percent of the cross-country variation in per capita income.

See Seguino ( 2013 , 2020 ) for a review of this literature.

The model allows for sorting on ability (“some people are better teachers”) or sorting on occupation-specific preferences (“others derive more utility from working as a teacher”) (Hsieh et al. 2019 , p. 1441). Here, we restrict our presentation to the case where sorting occurs primarily on ability. The authors find little empirical support for sorting on preferences.

Because the home sector is treated as any other occupation, the model can capture, in a reduced-form fashion, social norms on women’s labor force participation. For example, a social norm on traditional gender roles can be represented as a utility premium obtained by all women working on the home sector.

Note, however, that discrimination against women raises productivity in the non-agricultural sector. The reason is that the few women who end up working outside agriculture are positively selected on talent. Lee ( 2020 ) shows that this countervailing effect is modest and dominated by the loss of productivity in agriculture.

This is not the classic Beckerian quantity-quality trade-off because parents cannot invest in the quality of their children. Instead, the mechanism is built by assumption in the household’s utility function. When women’s wages increase relative to male wages, the substitution effect dominates the income effect.

The hypothesis that female labor force participation and economic development have a U-shaped relationship—known as the feminization-U hypothesis—goes back to Boserup ( 1970 ). See also Goldin ( 1995 ). Recently, Gaddis & Klasen ( 2014 ) find only limited empirical support for the feminization-U.

The model does not consider fertility decisions. Parents derive utility from their children’s human capital (social status utility). When household income increases, parents want to “consume” more social status by investing in their children’s education—this is the positive income effect.

Bloom et al. ( 2015 ) build their main model with unitary households, but show that the key conclusions are robust to a collective representation of the household.

This assumption does not necessarily mean that boys are more talented than girls. It can be also interpreted as a reduced-form way of capturing labor market discrimination against women.

Many empirical studies are in line with this assumption, which is rooted in evolutionary psychology. See Strulik ( 2019 ) for references. There are several other evolutionary arguments for men wanting more children (including with different women). See, among others, Mulder & Rauch ( 2009 ), Penn & Smith ( 2007 ), von Rueden & Jaeggi ( 2016 ). However, for a different view, see Fine ( 2017 ).

They do not model fertility decisions. So there is no quantity-quality trade-off.

In their empirical application, Heath & Tan ( 2020 ) study the Hindu Succession Act, which, through improved female inheritance rights, increased the lifetime unearned income of Indian women. Other policies consistent with the model are, for example, unconditional cash transfers to women.

De la Croix & Vander Donckt ( 2010 ) show this with numerical simulations, because the interior regime becomes analytically intractable.

We focus on gender-related policies in our presentation, but the article simulates additional public policies.

Agénor and Agénor ( 2014 ) develop a similar model, but with unitary households, and Agénor and Canuto ( 2015 ) have a similar model of collective households for Brazil, where adult women can also invest time in human capital formation. Since public infrastructure substitutes for women’s time in home production, more (or better) infrastructure can free up time for female human capital accumulation and, thus, endogenously increase wives’ bargaining power.

Voigtländer and Voth ( 2013 ) justify this assumption arguing that, in England, employment contracts for farm servants working in animal husbandry were conditional on celibacy. However, see Edwards & Ogilvie ( 2018 ) for a critique of this assumption.

The bride-price under individual consent need not be paid explicitly as a lump-sum transfer. It could, instead, be paid to the bride implicitly in the form of higher lifetime consumption.

In Tertilt ( 2005 ), all men are similar (except in age). Widespread polygyny is possible because older men marry younger women and population growth is high. This setup reflects stylized facts for Sub-Saharan Africa. It differs from models that assume male heterogeneity in endowments, where polygyny emerges because a rich male elite owns several wives, while poor men remain single (e.g., Gould, Moav and Simhon 2008 ; Lagerlöf 2005 , 2010 ).

See Grossbard ( 2015 ) for more details and extensions of this model and Grossbard ( 2018 ) for a non-technical overview of the related literature. For an earlier application, see Grossbard ( 1976 ).

The concept of WiHo is closely related but not equivalent to the ‘black-box’ term home production used by much of the literature. It also relates to feminist perspectives on care and social reproduction labor (c.f. Folbre 1994 ).

In the general setup, the model need not lead to a corner solution where only one spouse specializes in WiHo.

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We thank the Editor, Shoshana Grossbard, and three anonymous reviewers for helpful comments. We gratefully acknowledge funding from the Growth and Economic Opportunities for Women (GrOW) initiative, a multi-funder partnership between the UK’s Department for International Development, the Hewlett Foundation and the International Development Research Centre. All views expressed here and remaining errors are our own. Manuel dedicates this article to Stephan Klasen, in loving memory.

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Santos Silva, M., Klasen, S. Gender inequality as a barrier to economic growth: a review of the theoretical literature. Rev Econ Household 19 , 581–614 (2021).

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Gender Inequality Essay

500+ words essay on gender inequality.

For many years, the dominant gender has been men while women were the minority. It was mostly because men earned the money and women looked after the house and children. Similarly, they didn’t have any rights as well. However, as time passed by, things started changing slowly. Nonetheless, they are far from perfect. Gender inequality remains a serious issue in today’s time. Thus, this gender inequality essay will highlight its impact and how we can fight against it.

gender inequality essay

  About Gender Inequality Essay

Gender inequality refers to the unequal and biased treatment of individuals on the basis of their gender. This inequality happens because of socially constructed gender roles. It happens when an individual of a specific gender is given different or disadvantageous treatment in comparison to a person of the other gender in the same circumstance.

Get the huge list of more than 500 Essay Topics and Ideas

Impact of Gender Inequality

The biggest problem we’re facing is that a lot of people still see gender inequality as a women’s issue. However, by gender, we refer to all genders including male, female, transgender and others.

When we empower all genders especially the marginalized ones, they can lead their lives freely. Moreover, gender inequality results in not letting people speak their minds. Ultimately, it hampers their future and compromises it.

History is proof that fighting gender inequality has resulted in stable and safe societies. Due to gender inequality, we have a gender pay gap. Similarly, it also exposes certain genders to violence and discrimination.

In addition, they also get objectified and receive socioeconomic inequality. All of this ultimately results in severe anxiety, depression and even low self-esteem. Therefore, we must all recognize that gender inequality harms genders of all kinds. We must work collectively to stop these long-lasting consequences and this gender inequality essay will tell you how.

How to Fight Gender Inequality

Gender inequality is an old-age issue that won’t resolve within a few days. Similarly, achieving the goal of equality is also not going to be an easy one. We must start by breaking it down and allow it time to go away.

Firstly, we must focus on eradicating this problem through education. In other words, we must teach our young ones to counter gender stereotypes from their childhood.

Similarly, it is essential to ensure that they hold on to the very same beliefs till they turn old. We must show them how sports are not gender-biased.

Further, we must promote equality in the fields of labour. For instance, some people believe that women cannot do certain jobs like men. However, that is not the case. We can also get celebrities on board to promote and implant the idea of equality in people’s brains.

All in all, humanity needs men and women to continue. Thus, inequality will get us nowhere. To conclude the gender inequality essay, we need to get rid of the old-age traditions and mentality. We must teach everyone, especially the boys all about equality and respect. It requires quite a lot of work but it is possible. We can work together and achieve equal respect and opportunities for all genders alike.

FAQ of Gender Inequality Essay

Question 1: What is gender inequality?

Answer 1: Gender inequality refers to the unequal and biased treatment of individuals on the basis of their gender. This inequality happens because of socially constructed gender roles. It happens when an individual of a specific gender is given different or disadvantageous treatment in comparison to a person of the other gender in the same circumstance.

Question 2: How does gender inequality impact us?

Answer 2:  The gender inequality essay tells us that gender inequality impacts us badly. It takes away opportunities from deserving people. Moreover, it results in discriminatory behaviour towards people of a certain gender. Finally, it also puts people of a certain gender in dangerous situations.

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Gender Inequality - Free Essay Examples And Topic Ideas

Gender inequality refers to the unequal treatment or perceptions of individuals based on their gender, manifesting in various areas like the workplace, political representation, and societal norms. Essays on gender inequality could explore historical and contemporary instances, the social and economic implications, and the intersectionality of gender with other forms of discrimination. Furthermore, discussions might cover ongoing efforts to combat gender inequality and promote inclusivity. We’ve gathered an extensive assortment of free essay samples on the topic of Gender Inequality you can find at Papersowl. You can use our samples for inspiration to write your own essay, research paper, or just to explore a new topic for yourself.

Gender Inequality and Feminism

Gender inequality is a concept which has been occurring over a number of years and due to gender differences it fuels up gender inequality, which gave rise to gender socialization. Gender socialization is the process of learning gender roles which emerge from society and nowadays social media, throughout this process men and women learn their roles in society. The most common attribute we ascribe to women is that they can be vulnerable and sensitive, on the other hand, men hear […]

Crime and Social Justice on Gender Inequality

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The Gender Gap in Political Ambition

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Sexual Harassment in the Work Place and Gender Inequality

Abbas, in "All Males Are the Same: Exploring Workplace Harassment of Female Employees," addresses the issue of workplace sexual harassment towards females, which is common in many countries, specifically the Middle East. The article explores how workplace sexual harassment towards women contributes to the cause of gender inequality. Abbas supports his claim with numerous case studies. First, his findings suggest that workplace harassment is a universal problem embedded within societal traditions. Second, he examines how the unequal treatment of women […]

The Issue of Gender Inequality Within Society

According to the International Labour Organization, “equality in pay has improved in the US since 1979 when women earned about 62% as much as men. In 2010, American women on average earned 81% of what their male counterparts earned. Women’s participation in the U.S. labor force climbed during the 1970s and 1980s, reaching 60 percent in 2000. However, in 2010 this figure has declined to 46.7 percent and is not expected to increase by 2018.” (“Gender Inequality and Women in […]

“Education is the Passport to the Future”

“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today” Malcolm X. It can be said that education helps us increase knowledge to actively achieve and meet challenges that can produce changes in which are productive for attaining business innovations, political and economic objectives. In sociological terms education is usually seen as the process of acquiring certain skills or knowledge within an institution designed for that purpose. According (Haralambos & Holborn, 2004), it […]

Gender Inequality in Broadcast Journalism

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Gender Inequality in the Workplace

Gender inequality in the workplace has been an ongoing issue for decades now. Men and women have never been on the same page when it comes to work. Women have always been known to be more of caregivers and men have been given the tougher tasks. Gender stereotypes have always played a major role in assigning women to lower paying and lower status jobs in comparison to men. Discrimination against women can occur in many ways throughout the workplace, such […]

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Furthermore, in nations like Yemen, sex variations are seen even in optional school where young men select at a rate 20 rate focuses higher than young ladies. On the off chance that fairness is educated in schools it will change the general public and how individuals think and act bringing about more ladies learning and graduating. As what the speakers have mentioned, gender inequality should be fought by both men and women. It is humans right. Gender inequality has greatly […]

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How To Write an Essay About Gender Inequality

Understanding gender inequality: the foundation.

To write an essay on gender inequality, it's crucial to start with a clear understanding of what gender inequality entails. It's a broad term that refers to the unequal treatment or perception of individuals based on their gender. Gender inequality manifests in various aspects of life, including but not limited to the workplace, education, politics, and social norms. Begin your essay by defining gender inequality, providing relevant examples from different areas of life, and explaining why it is a significant issue that warrants attention.

Research and Statistics: Building Your Argument

A well-researched essay is a powerful tool. Accumulate data and statistics from credible sources such as academic journals, international organizations (like the UN or WHO), and reputable news outlets. This research should include global perspectives, highlighting how gender inequality varies across different cultures and societies. Use this information to construct a strong argument, supporting your points with evidence. This approach not only adds weight to your essay but also demonstrates a thorough understanding of the topic.

The Historical Perspective: Understanding the Roots

Incorporate a historical perspective to provide depth to your essay. Understanding the historical context of gender inequality helps to explain how and why it persists today. This can include an examination of gender roles throughout history, major movements for gender equality, and significant legal and social changes. A historical lens allows for a comprehensive view of the problem and its evolution over time.

Current Challenges and Debates

Focus on the current state of gender inequality. This section should explore the most pressing issues and debates surrounding gender inequality today. Topics can include the gender pay gap, underrepresentation in leadership positions, societal expectations, and the impact of gender stereotypes. This section can also cover the intersectionality of gender inequality, showing how it intersects with other forms of discrimination like race, class, and sexuality.

Solutions and Actions: Towards a More Equal Future

Every essay should look towards the future. Discuss potential solutions and actions that could be taken to address gender inequality. These can range from policy changes and educational reforms to shifts in cultural attitudes and individual actions. Highlight initiatives already in place that are working towards equality and suggest areas where more work is needed. This section should inspire and suggest practical ways for individuals and societies to contribute to a more gender-equal world.

Conclusion: Summarizing Key Points

Conclude your essay by summarizing the key points discussed. Reiterate the importance of addressing gender inequality and the impact it has on individuals and society as a whole. Your conclusion should leave readers with a clear understanding of the issue, its significance, and a sense of hope or urgency for the future. Remember, a strong conclusion can leave a lasting impression on your readers, motivating them to think more deeply about the subject or even take action.

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Digital Commons @ USF > College of Arts and Sciences > Women's and Gender Studies > Theses and Dissertations

Women's and Gender Studies Theses and Dissertations

Theses/dissertations from 2023 2023.

Social Media and Women Empowerment in Nigeria: A Study of the #BreakTheBias Campaign on Facebook , Deborah Osaro Omontese

Theses/Dissertations from 2022 2022

Going Flat: Challenging Gender, Stigma, and Cure through Lesbian Breast Cancer Experience , Beth Gaines

Incorrect Athlete, Incorrect Woman: IOC Gender Regulations and the Boundaries of Womanhood in Professional Sports , Sabeehah Ravat

Transnational Perspectives on the #MeToo and Anti-Base Movements in Japan , Alisha Romano

Theses/Dissertations from 2021 2021

Criminalizing LGBTQ+ Jamaicans: Social, Legal, and Colonial Influences on Homophobic Policy , Zoe C. Knowles

Dismantling Hegemony through Inclusive Sexual Health Education , Lauren Wright

Theses/Dissertations from 2020 2020

Transfat Representation , Jessica "Fyn" Asay

Theses/Dissertations from 2019 2019

Ain't I a Woman, Too? Depictions of Toxic Femininity, Transmisogynoir, and Violence on STAR , Sunahtah D. Jones

“The Most Muscular Woman I Have Ever Seen”: Bev FrancisPerformance of Gender in Pumping Iron II: The Women , Cera R. Shain

"Roll" Models: Fat Sexuality and Its Representations in Pornographic Imagery , Leah Marie Turner

Theses/Dissertations from 2018 2018

Reproducing Intersex Trouble: An Analysis of the M.C. Case in the Media , Jamie M. Lane

Race and Gender in (Re)integration of Victim-Survivors of CSEC in a Community Advocacy Context , Joshlyn Lawhorn

Penalizing Pregnancy: A Feminist Legal Studies Analysis of Purvi Patel's Criminalization , Abby Schneller

A Queer and Crip Grotesque: Katherine Dunn's , Megan Wiedeman

Theses/Dissertations from 2017 2017

"Mothers like Us Think Differently": Mothers' Negotiations of Virginity in Contemporary Turkey , Asli Aygunes

Surveilling Hate/Obscuring Racism?: Hate Group Surveillance and the Southern Poverty Law Center's "Hate Map" , Mary McKelvie

“Ya I have a disability, but that’s only one part of me”: Formative Experiences of Young Women with Physical Disabilities , Victoria Peer

Resistance from Within: Domestic violence and rape crisis centers that serve Black/African American populations , Jessica Marie Pinto

(Dis)Enchanted: (Re)constructing Love and Creating Community in the , Shannon A. Suddeth

Theses/Dissertations from 2016 2016

"The Afro that Ate Kentucky": Appalachian Racial Formation, Lived Experience, and Intersectional Feminist Interventions , Sandra Louise Carpenter

“Even Five Years Ago this Would Have Been Impossible:” Health Care Providers’ Perspectives on Trans* Health Care , Richard S. Henry

Tough Guy, Sensitive Vas: Analyzing Masculinity, Male Contraceptives & the Sexual Division of Labor , Kaeleen Kosmo

Theses/Dissertations from 2015 2015

Let’s Move! Biocitizens and the Fat Kids on the Block , Mary Catherine Dickman

Interpretations of Educational Experiences of Women in Chitral, Pakistan , Rakshinda Shah

Theses/Dissertations from 2014 2014

Incredi-bull-ly Inclusive?: Assessing the Climate on a College Campus , Aubrey Lynne Hall

Her-Storicizing Baldness: Situating Women's Experiences with Baldness from Skin and Hair Disorders , Kasie Holmes

In the (Radical) Pursuit of Self-Care: Feminist Participatory Action Research with Victim Advocates , Robyn L. Homer

Theses/Dissertations from 2013 2013

Significance is Bliss: A Global Feminist Analysis of the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission and its Privileging of Americo-Liberian over Indigenous Liberian Women's Voices , Morgan Lea Eubank

Monsters Under the Bed: An Analysis of Torture Scenes in Three Pixar Films , Heidi Tilney Kramer

Theses/Dissertations from 2012 2012

Can You Believe She Did THAT?!:Breaking the Codes of "Good" Mothering in 1970s Horror Films , Jessica Michelle Collard

Don't Blame It on My Ovaries: Exploring the Lived Experience of Women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and the Creation of Discourse , Jennifer Lynn Ellerman

Valanced Voices: Student Experiences with Learning Disabilities & Differences , Zoe DuPree Fine

An Interactive Guide to Self-Discovery for Women , Elaine J. Taylor

Selling the Third Wave: The Commodification and Consumption of the Flat Track Roller Girl , Mary Catherine Whitlock

Theses/Dissertations from 2010 2010

Beyond Survival: An Exploration of Narrative Healing and Forgiveness in Healing from Rape , Heather Curry

Theses/Dissertations from 2009 2009

Gender Trouble In Northern Ireland: An Examination Of Gender And Bodies Within The 1970s And 1980s Provisional Irish Republican Army In Northern Ireland , Jennifer Earles

"You're going to Hollywood"!: Gender and race surveillance and accountability in American Idol contestant's performances , Amanda LeBlanc

From the academy to the streets: Documenting the healing power of black feminist creative expression , Tunisia L. Riley

Developing Feminist Activist Pedagogy: A Case Study Approach in the Women's Studies Department at the University of South Florida , Stacy Tessier

Women in Wargasm: The Politics of Womenís Liberation in the Weather Underground Organization , Cyrana B. Wyker

Theses/Dissertations from 2008 2008

Opportunities for Spiritual Awakening and Growth in Mothering , Melissa J. Albee

A Constant Struggle: Renegotiating Identity in the Aftermath of Rape , Jo Aine Clarke

I am Warrior Woman, Hear Me Roar: The Challenge and Reproduction of Heteronormativity in Speculative Television Programs , Leisa Anne Clark

Theses/Dissertations from 2007 2007

Reforming Dance Pedagogy: A Feminist Perspective on the Art of Performance and Dance Education , Jennifer Clement

Narratives of lesbian transformation: Coming out stories of women who transition from heterosexual marriage to lesbian identity , Clare F. Walsh

The Conundrum of Women’s Studies as Institutional: New Niches, Undergraduate Concerns, and the Move Towards Contemporary Feminist Theory and Action , Rebecca K. Willman

Theses/Dissertations from 2006 2006

A Feminist Perspective on the Precautionary Principle and the Problem of Endocrine Disruptors under Neoliberal Globalization Policies , Erica Hesch Anstey

Asymptotes and metaphors: Teaching feminist theory , Michael Eugene Gipson

Postcolonial Herstory: The Novels of Assia Djebar (Algeria) and Oksana Zabuzhko (Ukraine): A Comparative Analysis , Oksana Lutsyshyna

Theses/Dissertations from 2005 2005

Loving Loving? Problematizing Pedagogies of Care and Chéla Sandoval’s Love as a Hermeneutic , Allison Brimmer

Exploring Women’s Complex Relationship with Political Violence: A Study of the Weathermen, Radical Feminism and the New Left , Lindsey Blake Churchill

The Voices of Sex Workers (prostitutes?) and the Dilemma of Feminist Discourse , Justine L. Kessler

Reconstructing Women's Identities: The Phenomenon Of Cosmetic Surgery In The United States , Cara L. Okopny

Fantastic Visions: On the Necessity of Feminist Utopian Narrative , Tracie Anne Welser

Theses/Dissertations from 2004 2004

The Politics of Being an Egg “Donor” and Shifting Notions of Reproductive Freedom , Elizabeth A. Dedrick

Women, Domestic Abuse, And Dreams: Analyzing Dreams To Uncover Hidden Traumas And Unacknowledged Strengths , Mindy Stokes

Theses/Dissertations from 2001 2001

Safe at Home: Agoraphobia and the Discourse on Women’s Place , Suzie Siegel

Theses/Dissertations from 2000 2000

Women, Environment and Development: Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America , Evaline Tiondi

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  • Course introduction

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1.1 Introduction to Gender Inequality

1.2 Structural gender inequality

  • 1.3 Gender inequality and childhood
  • 1.4 What is gender stereotyping?
  • 1.5 Who does gender stereotyping affect?
  • 1.6 The role of the classroom in challenging stereotypes
  • 1.7 Participation of women in STEM
  • 1.8 Stereotypes contribute to barriers to participation
  • 1.9 Intersectionality
  • 1.10 Group session: reflecting on the section so far
  • 1.11 Group session – action planning
  • Further reading and resources
  • Section 2: Unconscious bias
  • Section 3: Building STEM capital in the classroom
  • Section 4: Next steps and developing a whole school approach
  • Course and badge information
  • Learning log
  • Classroom Activities on gender stereotypes and equality
  • Classroom Activities on unconscious bias
  • Classroom Activities on STEM capital
  • End of course quiz

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Gender equality in STEM

Gender equality in STEM

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To begin the course we are going to explore what we mean when we talk about ‘gender’. To start us off let’s think about the differences between ‘gender’ and ‘sex’.

Activity 2 – What is Gender?

Can you identify the correct definitions for each of the following?

Refers to the biological and physiological characteristics that define men and women. At the same time, it may not always be possible to define along the dichotomous lines of male-female only, as is made evident by inter-sexed individuals.

Refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women. This and the related power relations are a social construct – they vary across cultures and through time, and thus are amenable to change.

Gender roles

The particular economic, social roles and responsibilities considered appropriate for women and men in a given society. These do not exist in isolation, but are defined in relation to one another and through the relationship between women and men, girls and boys.

Gender identity

A person’s deeply felt internal and individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond with the sex assigned to them at birth. This may include people who would identify as agender, non-binary, transgender or gender fluid. This can include having two or more genders, having no genders, moving between genders, or having a fluctuating gender identity.

Using the following two lists, match each numbered item with the correct letter.

a. Refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women. This and the related power relations are a social construct – they vary across cultures and through time, and thus are amenable to change.

b. A person’s deeply felt internal and individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond with the sex assigned to them at birth. This may include people who would identify as agender, non-binary, transgender or gender fluid. This can include having two or more genders, having no genders, moving between genders, or having a fluctuating gender identity.

c. Refers to the biological and physiological characteristics that define men and women. At the same time, it may not always be possible to define along the dichotomous lines of male-female only, as is made evident by inter-sexed individuals.

d. The particular economic, social roles and responsibilities considered appropriate for women and men in a given society. These do not exist in isolation, but are defined in relation to one another and through the relationship between women and men, girls and boys.

Medical Women's International Association (MWIA), Training Manual for Gender Mainstreaming in Health, 2002 [ Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. ( Hide tip ) ] , pp 10, 19; UN Women, Gender Mainstreaming – Concepts and Definitions ;

World Health Organization, Gender, women and health, .

Gender equality

UN Women define gender equality as:

“T he equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities of women and men and girls and boys. Gender equality implies that the interests, needs and priorities of both women and men are taken into consideration, recognising the diversity of different groups of women and men (for example: women belonging to ethnic minorities, lesbian women or women with disabilities). Gender equality is a human rights principle.”

Gender Inequality

Despite progress being made toward achieving equal rights; women and girls in the UK continue to experience inequality, discrimination and harassment, and face significant barriers to achieving their full potential. The daily experience of gender inequality ranges from undermining portrayals of women in the media and underrepresentation of women in positions of power, to direct discrimination and breaches of their human rights. Social expectations and assumptions about the abilities, roles and opportunities which should be afforded on the basis of gender continue to define the life chances of women today.

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Gender inequalities in the workplace: the effects of organizational structures, processes, practices, and decision makers’ sexism

Gender inequality in organizations is a complex phenomenon that can be seen in organizational structures, processes, and practices. For women, some of the most harmful gender inequalities are enacted within human resources (HRs) practices. This is because HR practices (i.e., policies, decision-making, and their enactment) affect the hiring, training, pay, and promotion of women. We propose a model of gender discrimination in HR that emphasizes the reciprocal nature of gender inequalities within organizations. We suggest that gender discrimination in HR-related decision-making and in the enactment of HR practices stems from gender inequalities in broader organizational structures, processes, and practices. This includes leadership, structure, strategy, culture, organizational climate, as well as HR policies. In addition, organizational decision makers’ levels of sexism can affect their likelihood of making gender biased HR-related decisions and/or behaving in a sexist manner while enacting HR practices. Importantly, institutional discrimination in organizational structures, processes, and practices play a pre-eminent role because not only do they affect HR practices, they also provide a socializing context for organizational decision makers’ levels of hostile and benevolent sexism. Although we portray gender inequality as a self-reinforcing system that can perpetuate discrimination, important levers for reducing discrimination are identified.


The workplace has sometimes been referred to as an inhospitable place for women due to the multiple forms of gender inequalities present (e.g., Abrams, 1991 ). Some examples of how workplace discrimination negatively affects women’s earnings and opportunities are the gender wage gap (e.g., Peterson and Morgan, 1995 ), the dearth of women in leadership ( Eagly and Carli, 2007 ), and the longer time required for women (vs. men) to advance in their careers ( Blau and DeVaro, 2007 ). In other words, workplace discrimination contributes to women’s lower socio-economic status. Importantly, such discrimination against women largely can be attributed to human resources (HR) policies and HR-related decision-making. Furthermore, when employees interact with organizational decision makers during HR practices, or when they are told the outcomes of HR-related decisions, they may experience personal discrimination in the form of sexist comments. Both the objective disadvantages of lower pay, status, and opportunities at work, and the subjective experiences of being stigmatized, affect women’s psychological and physical stress, mental and physical health ( Goldenhar et al., 1998 ; Adler et al., 2000 ; Schmader et al., 2008 ; Borrel et al., 2010 ),job satisfaction and organizational commitment ( Hicks-Clarke and Iles, 2000 ), and ultimately, their performance ( Cohen-Charash and Spector, 2001 ).

Within this paper, we delineate the nature of discrimination within HR policies, decisions, and their enactment, as well as explore the causes of such discrimination in the workplace. Our model is shown in Figure ​ Figure1 1 . In the Section “Discrimination in HR Related Practices: HR Policy, Decisions, and their Enactment,” we explain the distinction between HR policy, HR-related decision-making, and HR enactment and their relations to each other. Gender inequalities in HR policy are a form of institutional discrimination. We review evidence of institutional discrimination against women within HR policies set out to determine employee selection, performance evaluations, and promotions. In contrast, discrimination in HR-related decisions and their enactment can result from organizational decision makers’ biased responses: it is a form of personal discrimination. Finally, we provide evidence of personal discrimination against women by organizational decision makers in HR-related decision-making and in the enactment of HR policies.

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Object name is fpsyg-06-01400-g001.jpg

A model of the root causes of gender discrimination in HR policies, decision-making, and enactment .

In the Section “The Effect of Organizational Structures, Processes, and Practices on HR Practices,” we focus on the link between institutional discrimination in organizational structures, processes, and practices that can lead to personal discrimination in HR practices (see Figure ​ Figure1 1 ). Inspired by the work of Gelfand et al. (2007) , we propose that organizational structures, processes, and practices (i.e., leadership, structure, strategy, culture, climate, and HR policy) are interrelated and may contribute to discrimination. Accordingly, gender inequalities in each element can affect the others, creating a self-reinforcing system that can perpetuate institutional discrimination throughout the organization and that can lead to discrimination in HR policies, decision-making, and enactment. We also propose that these relations between gender inequalities in the organizational structures, processes, and practices and discrimination in HR practices can be bidirectional (see Figure ​ Figure1 1 ). Thus, we also review how HR practices can contribute to gender inequalities in organizational structures, processes, and practices.

In the Section “The Effect of Hostile and Benevolent Sexism on How Organizational Decision Makers’ Conduct HR Practices,” we delineate the link between organizational decision makers’ levels of sexism and their likelihood of making gender-biased HR-related decisions and/or behaving in a sexist manner when enacting HR policies (e.g., engaging in gender harassment). We focus on two forms of sexist attitudes: hostile and benevolent sexism ( Glick and Fiske, 1996 ). Hostile sexism involves antipathy toward, and negative stereotypes about, agentic women. In contrast, benevolent sexism involves positive but paternalistic views of women as highly communal. Whereas previous research on workplace discrimination has focused on forms of sexism that are hostile in nature, we extend this work by explaining how benevolent sexism, which is more subtle, can also contribute in meaningful yet distinct ways to gender discrimination in HR practices.

In the Section “The Effect of Organizational Structures, Processes, and Practices on Organizational Decision Makers’ Levels of Hostile and Benevolent Sexism,” we describe how institutional discrimination in organizational structures, processes, and practices play a critical role in our model because not only do they affect HR-related decisions and the enactment of HR policies, they also provide a socializing context for organizational decision makers’ levels of hostile and benevolent sexism. In other words, where more institutional discrimination is present, we can expect higher levels of sexism—a third link in our model—which leads to gender bias in HR practices.

In the Section “How to Reduce Gender Discrimination in Organizations,” we discuss how organizations can reduce gender discrimination. We suggest that, to reduce discrimination, organizations should focus on: HR practices, other closely related organizational structures, processes, and practices, and the reduction of organizational decision makers’ level of sexism. Organizations should take such a multifaceted approach because, consistent with our model, gender discrimination is a result of a complex interplay between these factors. Therefore, a focus on only one factor may not be as effective if all the other elements in the model continue to promote gender inequality.

The model we propose for understanding gender inequalities at work is, of course, limited and not intended to be exhaustive. First, we only focus on women’s experience of discrimination. Although men also face discrimination, the focus of this paper is on women because they are more often targets ( Branscombe, 1998 ; Schmitt et al., 2002 ; McLaughlin et al., 2012 ) and discrimination is more psychologically damaging for women than for men ( Barling et al., 1996 ; Schmitt et al., 2002 ). Furthermore, we draw on research from Western, individualistic countries conducted between the mid-1980s to the mid-2010s that might not generalize to other countries or time frames. In addition, this model derives from research that has been conducted primarily in sectors dominated by men. This is because gender discrimination ( Mansfield et al., 1991 ; Welle and Heilman, 2005 ) and harassment ( Mansfield et al., 1991 ; Berdhal, 2007 ) against women occur more in environments dominated by men. Now that we have outlined the sections of the paper and our model, we now turn to delineating how gender discrimination in the workplace can be largely attributed to HR practices.

Discrimination in HR Related Practices: HR Policy, Decisions, and their Enactment

In this section, we explore the nature of gender discrimination in HR practices, which involves HR policies, HR-related decision-making, and their enactment by organizational decision makers. HR is a system of organizational practices aimed at managing employees and ensuring that they are accomplishing organizational goals ( Wright et al., 1994 ). HR functions include: selection, performance evaluation, leadership succession, and training. Depending on the size and history of the organization, HR systems can range from those that are well structured and supported by an entire department, led by HR specialists, to haphazard sets of policies and procedures enacted by managers and supervisors without formal training. HR practices are critically important because they determine the access employees have to valued reward and outcomes within an organization, and can also influence their treatment within an organization ( Levitin et al., 1971 ).

Human resource practices can be broken down into formal HR policy, HR-related decision-making, and the enactment of HR policies and decisions. HR policy codifies practices for personnel functions, performance evaluations, employee relations, and resource planning ( Wright et al., 1994 ). HR-related decision-making occurs when organizational decision makers (i.e., managers, supervisors, or HR personnel) employ HR policy to determine how it will be applied to a particular situation and individual. The enactment of HR involves the personal interactions between organizational decision makers and job candidates or employees when HR policies are applied. Whereas HR policy can reflect institutional discrimination, HR-related decision-making and enactment can reflect personal discrimination by organizational decision makers.

Institutional Discrimination in HR Policy

Human resource policies that are inherently biased against a group of people, regardless of their job-related knowledge, skills, abilities, and performance can be termed institutional discrimination. Institutional discrimination against women can occur in each type of HR policy from the recruitment and selection of an individual into an organization, through his/her role assignments, training, pay, performance evaluations, promotion, and termination. For instance, if women are under-represented in a particular educational program or a particular job type and those credentials or previous job experience are required to be considered for selection, women are being systematically, albeit perhaps not intentionally, discriminated against. In another example, there is gender discrimination if a test is used in the selection battery for which greater gender differences emerge, than those that emerge for job performance ratings ( Hough et al., 2001 ). Thus, institutional discrimination can be present within various aspects of HR selection policy, and can negatively affect women’s work outcomes.

Institutional discrimination against women also occurs in performance evaluations that are used to determine organizational rewards (e.g., compensation), opportunities (e.g., promotion, role assignments), and punishments (e.g., termination). Gender discrimination can be formalized into HR policy if criteria used by organizational decision makers to evaluate job performance systematically favor men over women. For instance, “face time” is a key performance metric that rewards employees who are at the office more than those who are not. Given that women are still the primary caregivers ( Acker, 1990 ; Fuegen et al., 2004 ), women use flexible work arrangements more often than men and, consequently, face career penalties because they score lower on face time ( Glass, 2004 ). Thus, biased criteria in performance evaluation policies can contribute to gender discrimination.

Human resource policies surrounding promotions and opportunities for advancement are another area of concern. In organizations with more formal job ladders that are used to dictate and constrain workers’ promotion opportunities, women are less likely to advance ( Perry et al., 1994 ). This occurs because job ladders tend to be divided by gender, and as such, gender job segregation that is seen at entry-level positions will be strengthened as employees move up their specific ladder with no opportunity to cross into other lines of advancement. Thus, women will lack particular job experiences that are not available within their specific job ladders, making them unqualified for advancement ( De Pater et al., 2010 ).

In sum, institutional discrimination can be present within HR policies set out to determine employee selection, performance evaluations, and promotions. These policies can have significant effects on women’s careers. However, HR policy can only be used to guide HR-related decision-making. In reality, it is organizational decision-makers, that is, managers, supervisors, HR personnel who, guided by policy, must evaluate job candidates or employees and decide how policy will be applied to individuals.

Personal Discrimination in HR-Related Decision-Making

The practice of HR-related decision-making involves social cognition in which others’ competence, potential, and deservingness are assessed by organizational decision makers. Thus, like all forms of social cognition, HR-related decision-making is open to personal biases. HR-related decisions are critically important because they determine women’s pay and opportunities at work (e.g., promotions, training opportunities). Personal discrimination against women by organizational decision makers can occur in each stage of HR-related decision-making regarding recruitment and selection, role assignments, training opportunities, pay, performance evaluation, promotion, and termination.

Studies with varying methodologies show that women face personal discrimination when going through the selection process (e.g., Goldberg, 1968 ; Rosen and Jerdee, 1974 ). Meta-analyses reveal that, when being considered for male-typed (i.e., male dominated, believed-to-be-for-men) jobs, female candidates are evaluated more negatively and recommended for employment less often by study participants, compared with matched male candidates (e.g., Hunter et al., 1982 ; Tosi and Einbender, 1985 ; Olian et al., 1988 ; Davison and Burke, 2000 ). For example, in audit studies, which involve sending ostensibly real applications for job openings while varying the gender of the applicant, female applicants are less likely to be interviewed or called back, compared with male applicants (e.g., McIntyre et al., 1980 ; Firth, 1982 ). In a recent study, male and female biology, chemistry, and physics professors rated an undergraduate science student for a laboratory manager position ( Moss-Racusin et al., 2012 ). The male applicant was rated as significantly more competent and hireable, offered a higher starting salary (about $4000), and offered more career mentoring than the female applicant was. In summary, women face a distinct disadvantage when being considered for male-typed jobs.

There is ample evidence that women experience biased performance evaluations on male-typed tasks. A meta-analysis of experimental studies reveals that women in leadership positions receive lower performance evaluations than matched men; this is amplified when women act in a stereotypically masculine, that is, agentic fashion ( Eagly et al., 1992 ). Further, in masculine domains, women are held to a higher standard of performance than men are. For example, in a study of military cadets, men and women gave their peers lower ratings if they were women, despite having objectively equal qualifications to men ( Boldry et al., 2001 ). Finally, women are evaluated more poorly in situations that involve complex problem solving; in these situations, people are skeptical regarding women’s expertise and discredit expert women’s opinions but give expert men the benefit of the doubt ( Thomas-Hunt and Phillips, 2004 ).

Sometimes particular types of women are more likely to be discriminated against in selection and performance evaluation decisions. Specifically, agentic women, that is, those who behave in an assertive, task-oriented fashion, are rated as less likeable and less hireable than comparable agentic male applicants ( Heilman and Okimoto, 2007 ; Rudman and Phelan, 2008 ; Rudman et al., 2012 ). In addition, there is evidence of discrimination against pregnant women when they apply for jobs ( Hebl et al., 2007 ; Morgan et al., 2013 ). Further, women who are mothers are recommended for promotion less than women who are not mothers or men with or without children ( Heilman and Okimoto, 2008 ). Why might people discriminate specifically against agentic women and pregnant women or mothers, who are seemingly very different? The stereotype content model, accounts for how agentic women, who are perceived to be high in competence and low in warmth, will be discriminated against because of feelings of competition; whereas, pregnant women and mothers, who are seen as low in competence, but high in warmth, will be discriminated against because of a perceived lack of deservingness ( Fiske et al., 1999 , 2002 ; Cuddy et al., 2004 ). Taken together, research has uncovered that different forms of bias toward specific subtypes of women have the same overall effect—bias in selection and performance evaluation decisions.

Women are also likely to receive fewer opportunities at work, compared with men, resulting in their under-representation at higher levels of management and leadership within organizations ( Martell et al., 1996 ; Eagly and Carli, 2007 ). Managers give women fewer challenging roles and fewer training opportunities, compared with men ( King et al., 2012 ; Glick, 2013 ). For instance, female managers ( Lyness and Thompson, 1997 ) and midlevel workers ( De Pater et al., 2010 ) have less access to high-level responsibilities and challenges that are precursors to promotion. Further, men are more likely to be given key leadership assignments in male-dominated fields and in female-dominated fields (e.g., Maume, 1999 ; De Pater et al., 2010 ). This is detrimental given that challenging roles, especially developmental ones, help employees gain important skills needed to excel in their careers ( Spreitzer et al., 1997 ).

Furthermore, managers rate women as having less promotion potential than men ( Roth et al., 2012 ). Given the same level of qualifications, managers are less likely to grant promotions to women, compared with men ( Lazear and Rosen, 1990 ). Thus, men have a faster ascent in organizational hierarchies than women ( Cox and Harquail, 1991 ; Stroh et al., 1992 ; Blau and DeVaro, 2007 ). Even minimal amounts of gender discrimination in promotion decisions for a particular job or level can have large, cumulative effects given the pyramid structure of most hierarchical organizations ( Martell et al., 1996 ; Baxter and Wright, 2000 ). Therefore, discrimination by organizational decision makers results in the under-promotion of women.

Finally, women are underpaid, compared with men. In a comprehensive US study using data from 1983 to 2000, after controlling for human capital factors that could affect wages (e.g., education level, work experience), the researchers found that women were paid 22% less than men ( U.S. Government Accountability Office, 2003 ). Further, within any given occupation, men typically have higher wages than women; this “within-occupation” wage gap is especially prominent in more highly paid occupations ( U.S. Census Bureau, 2007 ). In a study of over 2000 managers, women were compensated less than men were, even after controlling for a number of human capital factors ( Ostroff and Atwater, 2003 ). Experimental work suggests that personal biases by organizational decision makers contribute to the gender wage gap. When participants are asked to determine starting salaries for matched candidates that differ by gender, they pay men more (e.g., Steinpreis et al., 1999 ; Moss-Racusin et al., 2012 ). Such biases are consequential because starting salaries determine life-time earnings ( Gerhart and Rynes, 1991 ). In experimental studies, when participants evaluate a man vs. a woman who is matched on job performance, they choose to compensate men more ( Marini, 1989 ; Durden and Gaynor, 1998 ; Lips, 2003 ). Therefore, discrimination in HR-related decision-making by organizational decision makers can contribute to women being paid less than men are.

Taken together, we have shown that there is discrimination against women in decision-making related to HR. These biases from organizational decision makers can occur in each stage of HR-related decision-making and these biased HR decisions have been shown to negatively affect women’s pay and opportunities at work. In the next section, we review how biased HR practices are enacted, which can involve gender harassment.

Personal Discrimination in HR Enactment

By HR enactment, we refer to those situations where current or prospective employees go through HR processes or when they receive news of their outcomes from organizational decision makers regarding HR-related issues. Personal gender discrimination can occur when employees are given sexist messages, by organizational decision makers, related to HR enactment. More specifically, this type of personal gender discrimination is termed gender harassment, and consists of a range of verbal and non-verbal behaviors that convey sexist, insulting, or hostile attitudes about women ( Fitzgerald et al., 1995a , b ). Gender harassment is the most common form of sex-based discrimination ( Fitzgerald et al., 1988 ; Schneider et al., 1997 ). For example, across the military in the United States, 52% of the 9,725 women surveyed reported that they had experienced gender harassment in the last year ( Leskinen et al., 2011 , Study 1). In a random sample of attorneys from a large federal judicial circuit, 32% of the 1,425 women attorneys surveyed had experienced gender harassment in the last 5 years ( Leskinen et al., 2011 , Study 2). When examining women’s experiences of gender harassment, 60% of instances were perpetrated by their supervisor/manager or a person in a leadership role (cf. Crocker and Kalemba, 1999 ; McDonald et al., 2008 ). Thus, personal discrimination in the form of gender harassment is a common behavior; however, is it one that organizational decision makers engage in when enacting HR processes and outcomes?

Although it might seem implausible that organizational decision makers would convey sexist sentiments to women when giving them the news of HR-related decisions, there have been high-profile examples from discrimination lawsuits where this has happened. For example, in a class action lawsuit against Walmart, female workers claimed they were receiving fewer promotions than men despite superior qualifications and records of service. In that case, the district manager was accused of confiding to some of the women who were overlooked for promotions that they were passed over because he was not in favor of women being in upper management positions ( Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 2004/2011 ). In addition, audit studies, wherein matched men and women apply to real jobs, have revealed that alongside discrimination ( McIntyre et al., 1980 ; Firth, 1982 ; Moss-Racusin et al., 2012 ), women experience verbal gender harassment when applying for sex atypical jobs, such as sexist comments as well as skeptical or discouraging responses from hiring staff ( Neumark, 1996 ). Finally, gender harassment toward women when HR policies are enacted can also take the form of offensive comments and denying women promotions due to pregnancy or the chance of pregnancy. For example, in Moore v. Alabama , an employee was 8 months pregnant and the woman’s supervisor allegedly looked at her belly and said “I was going to make you head of the office, but look at you now” ( Moore v. Alabama State University, 1996 , p. 431; Williams, 2003 ). Thus, organizational decision makers will at times convey sexist sentiments to women when giving them the news of HR-related decisions.

Interestingly, whereas discrimination in HR policy and in HR-related decision-making is extremely difficult to detect ( Crosby et al., 1986 ; Major, 1994 ), gender harassment in HR enactment provides direct cues to recipients that discrimination is occurring. In other words, although women’s lives are negatively affected in concrete ways by discrimination in HR policy and decisions (e.g., not receiving a job, being underpaid), they may not perceive their negative outcomes as due to gender discrimination. Indeed, there is a multitude of evidence that women and other stigmatized group members are loath to make attributions to discrimination ( Crosby, 1984 ; Vorauer and Kumhyr, 2001 ; Stangor et al., 2003 ) and instead are likely to make internal attributions for negative evaluations unless they are certain the evaluator is biased against their group ( Ruggiero and Taylor, 1995 ; Major et al., 2003 ). However, when organizational decision makers engage in gender harassment during HR enactment women should be more likely to interpret HR policy and HR-related decisions as discriminatory.

Now that we have specified the nature of institutional gender discrimination in HR policy and personal discrimination in HR-related decision-making and in HR enactment, we turn to the issue of understanding the causes of such discrimination: gender discrimination in organizational structures, processes, and practices, and personal biases of organizational decision makers.

The Effect of Organizational Structures, Processes, and Practices on HR Practices

The first contextual factor within which gender inequalities can be institutionalized is leadership. Leadership is a process wherein an individual (e.g., CEOs, managers) influences others in an effort to reach organizational goals ( Chemers, 1997 ; House and Aditya, 1997 ). Leaders determine and communicate what the organization’s priorities are to all members of the organization. Leaders are important as they affect the other organizational structures, processes, and practices. Specifically, leaders set culture, set policy, set strategy, and are role models for socialization. We suggest that one important way institutional gender inequality in leadership exists is when women are under-represented, compared with men—particularly when women are well-represented at lower levels within an organization.

An underrepresentation of women in leadership can be perpetuated easily because the gender of organizational leaders affects the degree to which there is gender discrimination, gender supportive policies, and a gender diversity supportive climate within an organization ( Ostroff et al., 2012 ). Organizational members are likely to perceive that the climate for women is positive when women hold key positions in the organization ( Konrad et al., 2010 ). Specifically, the presence of women in key positions acts as a vivid symbol indicating that the organization supports gender diversity. Consistent with this, industries that have fewer female high status managers have a greater gender wage gap ( Cohen and Huffman, 2007 ). Further, women who work with a male supervisor perceive less organizational support, compared with those who work with a female supervisor ( Konrad et al., 2010 ). In addition, women who work in departments that are headed by a man report experiencing more gender discrimination, compared with their counterparts in departments headed by women ( Konrad et al., 2010 ). Some of these effects may be mediated by a similar-to-me bias ( Tsui and O’Reilly, 1989 ), where leaders set up systems that reward and promote individuals like themselves, which can lead to discrimination toward women when leaders are predominantly male ( Davison and Burke, 2000 ; Roth et al., 2012 ). Thus, gender inequalities in leadership affect women’s experiences in the workplace and their likelihood of facing discrimination.

The second contextual factor to consider is organizational structure. The formal structure of an organization is how an organization arranges itself and it consists of employee hierarchies, departments, etc. ( Grant, 2010 ). An example of institutional discrimination in the formal structure of an organization are job ladders, which are typically segregated by gender ( Perry et al., 1994 ). Such gender-segregated job ladders typically exist within different departments of the organization. Women belonging to gender-segregated networks within organizations ( Brass, 1985 ) have less access to information about jobs, less status, and less upward mobility within the organization ( Ragins and Sundstrom, 1989 ; McDonald et al., 2009 ). This is likely because in gender-segregated networks, women have less visibility and lack access to individuals with power ( Ragins and Sundstrom, 1989 ). In gender-segregated networks, it is also difficult for women to find female mentors because there is a lack of women in high-ranking positions ( Noe, 1988 ; Linehan and Scullion, 2008 ). Consequently, the organizational structure can be marked by gender inequalities that reduce women’s chances of reaching top-level positions in an organization.

Gender inequalities can be inherent in the structure of an organization when there are gender segregated departments, job ladders, and networks, which are intimately tied to gender discrimination in HR practices. For instance, if HR policies are designed such that pay is determined based on comparisons between individuals only within a department (e.g., department-wide reporting structure, job descriptions, performance evaluations), then this can lead to a devaluation of departments dominated by women. The overrepresentation of women in certain jobs leads to the lower status of those jobs; consequently, the pay brackets for these jobs decrease over time as the number of women in these jobs increase (e.g., Huffman and Velasco, 1997 ; Reilly and Wirjanto, 1999 ). Similarly, networks led by women are also devalued for pay. For example, in a study of over 2,000 managers, after controlling for performance, the type of job, and the functional area (e.g., marketing, sales, accounting), those who worked with female mangers had lower wages than those who worked with male managers ( Ostroff and Atwater, 2003 ). Thus, gender inequalities in an organization’s structure in terms of gender segregation have reciprocal effects with gender discrimination in HR policy and decision-making.

Another contextual factor in our model is organizational strategy and how institutional discrimination within strategy is related to discrimination in HR practices. Strategy is a plan, method, or process by which an organization attempts to achieve its objectives, such as being profitable, maintaining and expanding its consumer base, marketing strategy, etc. ( Grant, 2010 ). Strategy can influence the level of inequality within an organization ( Morrison and Von Glinow, 1990 ; Hunter et al., 2001 ). For example, Hooters, a restaurant chain, has a marketing strategy to sexually attract heterosexual males, which has led to discrimination in HR policy, decisions, and enactment because only young, good-looking women are considered qualified ( Schneyer, 1998 ). When faced with appearance-based discrimination lawsuits regarding their hiring policies, Hooters has responded by claiming that such appearance requirements are bona fide job qualifications given their marketing strategy (for reviews, see Schneyer, 1998 ; Adamitis, 2000 ). Hooters is not alone, as many other establishments attempt to attract male cliental by requiring their female servers to meet a dress code involving a high level of grooming (make-up, hair), a high heels requirement, and a revealing uniform ( McGinley, 2007 ). Thus, sexist HR policies and practices in which differential standards are applied to male and female employees can stem from a specific organizational strategy ( Westall, 2015 ).

We now consider institutional gender bias within organizational culture and how it relates to discrimination in HR policies. Organizational culture refers to collectively held beliefs, assumptions, and values held by organizational members ( Trice and Beyer, 1993 ; Schein, 2010 ). Cultures arise from the values of the founders of the organization and assumptions about the right way of doing things, which are learned from dealing with challenges over time ( Ostroff et al., 2012 ). The founders and leaders of an organization are the most influential in forming, maintaining, and changing culture over time (e.g., Trice and Beyer, 1993 ; Jung et al., 2008 ; Hartnell and Walumbwa, 2011 ). Organizational culture can contribute to gender inequalities because culture constrains people’s ideas of what is possible: their strategies of action ( Swidler, 1986 ). In other words, when people encounter a problem in their workplace, the organizational culture—who we are, how we act, what is right—will provide only a certain realm of behavioral responses. For instance, in organizational cultures marked by greater gender inequality, women may have lower hopes and expectations for promotion, and when they are discriminated against, may be less likely to imagine that they can appeal their outcomes ( Kanter, 1977 ; Cassirer and Reskin, 2000 ). Furthermore, in organizational cultures marked by gender inequality, organizational decision makers should hold stronger descriptive and proscriptive gender stereotypes: they should more strongly believe that women have less ability to lead, less career commitment, and less emotional stability, compared with men ( Eagly et al., 1992 ; Heilman, 2001 ). We expand upon this point later.

Other aspects of organizational culture that are less obviously related to gender can also lead to discrimination in HR practices. For instance, an organizational culture that emphasizes concerns with meritocracy, can lead organizational members to oppose HR efforts to increase gender equality. This is because when people believe that outcomes ought to go only to those who are most deserving, it is easy for them to fall into the trap of believing that outcomes currently do go to those who are most deserving ( Son Hing et al., 2011 ). Therefore, people will believe that men deserve their elevated status and women deserve their subordinated status at work ( Castilla and Benard, 2010 ). Furthermore, the more people care about merit-based outcomes, the more they oppose affirmative action and diversity initiatives for women ( Bobocel et al., 1998 ; Son Hing et al., 2011 ), particularly when they do not recognize that discrimination occurs against women in the absence of such policies ( Son Hing et al., 2002 ). Thus, a particular organizational culture can influence the level of discrimination against women in HR and prevent the adoption of HR policies that would mitigate gender discrimination.

Finally, gender inequalities can be seen in organizational climates. An organizational climate consists of organizational members’ shared perceptions of the formal and informal organizational practices, procedures, and routines ( Schneider et al., 2011 ) that arise from direct experiences of the organization’s culture ( Ostroff et al., 2012 ). Organizational climates tend to be conceptualized and studied as “climates for” an organizational strategy ( Schneider, 1975 ; Ostroff et al., 2012 ). Gender inequalities are most clearly reflected in two forms of climate: climates for diversity and climates for sexual harassment.

A positive climate for diversity exists when organizational members perceive that diverse groups are included, empowered, and treated fairly. When employees perceive a less supportive diversity climate, they perceive greater workplace discrimination ( Cox, 1994 ; Ragins and Cornwall, 2001 ; Triana and García, 2009 ), and experience lower organizational commitment and job satisfaction ( Hicks-Clarke and Iles, 2000 ), and higher turnover intentions ( Triana et al., 2010 ). Thus, in organizations with a less supportive diversity climate, women are more likely to leave the organization, which contributes to the underrepresentation of women in already male-dominated arenas ( Miner-Rubino and Cortina, 2004 ).

A climate for sexual harassment involves perceptions that the organization is permissive of sexual harassment. In organizational climates that are permissive of harassment, victims are reluctant to come forward because they believe that their complaints will not be taken seriously ( Hulin et al., 1996 ) and will result in negative personal consequences (e.g., Offermann and Malamut, 2002 ). Furthermore, men with a proclivity for harassment are more likely to act out these behaviors when permissive factors are present ( Pryor et al., 1993 ). Therefore, a permissive climate for sexual harassment can result in more harassing behaviors, which can lead women to disengage from their work and ultimately leave the organization ( Kath et al., 2009 ).

Organizational climates for diversity and for sexual harassment are inextricably linked to HR practices. For instance, a factor that leads to perceptions of diversity climates is whether the HR department has diversity training (seminars, workshops) and how much time and money is devoted to diversity efforts ( Triana and García, 2009 ). Similarly, a climate for sexual harassment depends on organizational members’ perceptions of how strict the workplace’s sexual harassment policy is, and how likely offenders are to be punished ( Fitzgerald et al., 1995b ; Hulin et al., 1996 ). Thus, HR policies, decision-making, and their enactment strongly affect gender inequalities in organizational climates and gender inequalities throughout an organization.

In summary, gender inequalities can exist within organizational structures, processes, and practices. However, organizational leadership, structure, strategy, culture, and climate do not inherently need to be sexist. It could be possible for these organizational structures, processes, and practices to promote gender equality. We return to this issue in the conclusion section.

The Effect of Hostile and Benevolent Sexism on How Organizational Decision Makers’ Conduct HR Practices

In this section, we explore how personal biases can affect personal discrimination in HR-related decisions and their enactment. Others have focused on how negative or hostile attitudes toward women predict discrimination in the workplace. However, we extend this analysis by drawing on ambivalent sexism theory, which involves hostile sexism (i.e., antagonistic attitudes toward women) and benevolent sexism (i.e., paternalistic attitudes toward women; see also Glick, 2013 ), both of which lead to discrimination against women.

Stereotyping processes are one possible explanation of how discrimination against women in male-typed jobs occurs and how women are relegated to the “pink ghetto” ( Heilman, 1983 ; Eagly and Karau, 2002 ; Rudman et al., 2012 ). Gender stereotypes, that is, expectations of what women and men are like, and what they should be like, are one of the most powerful schemas activated when people encounter others ( Fiske et al., 1991 ; Stangor et al., 1992 ). According to status characteristics theory, people’s group memberships convey important information about their status and their competence on specific tasks ( Berger et al., 1974 ; Berger et al., 1998 ; Correll and Ridgeway, 2003 ). Organizational decision makers will, for many jobs, have different expectations for men’s and women’s competence and job performance. Expectations of stereotyped-group members’ success can affect gender discrimination that occurs in HR-related decisions and enactment ( Roberson et al., 2007 ). For example, men are preferred over women for masculine jobs and women are preferred over men for feminine jobs ( Davison and Burke, 2000 ). Thus, the more that a workplace role is inconsistent with the attributes ascribed to women, the more a particular woman might be seen as lacking “fit” with that role, resulting in decreased performance expectations ( Heilman, 1983 ; Eagly and Karau, 2002 ).

Furthermore, because women are associated with lower status, and men with higher status, women experience backlash for pursuing high status roles (e.g., leadership) in the workplace ( Rudman et al., 2012 ). In other words, agentic women who act competitively and confidently in a leadership role, are rated as more socially deficient, less likeable and less hireable, compared with men who act the same way ( Rudman, 1998 ; Rudman et al., 2012 ). Interestingly though, if women pursue roles in the workplace that are congruent with traditional gender expectations, they will elicit positive reactions ( Eagly and Karau, 2002 ).

Thus, cultural, widely known, gender stereotypes can affect HR-related decisions. However, such an account does not take into consideration individual differences among organizational decision makers (e.g., managers, supervisors, or HR personnel) who may vary in the extent to which they endorse sexist attitudes or stereotypes. Individual differences in various forms of sexism (e.g., modern sexism, neosexism) have been demonstrated to lead to personal discrimination in the workplace ( Hagen and Kahn, 1975 ; Beaton et al., 1996 ; Hitlan et al., 2009 ). Ambivalent sexism theory builds on earlier theories of sexism by including attitudes toward women that, while sexist, are often experienced as positive in valence by perceivers and targets ( Glick and Fiske, 1996 ). Therefore, we draw on ambivalent sexism theory, which conceptualizes sexism as a multidimensional construct that encompasses both hostile and benevolent attitudes toward women ( Glick and Fiske, 1996 , 2001 ).

Hostile sexism involves antipathy and negative stereotypes about women, such as beliefs that women are incompetent, overly emotional, and sexually manipulative. Hostile sexism also involves beliefs that men should be more powerful than women and fears that women will try to take power from men ( Glick and Fiske, 1996 ; Cikara et al., 2008 ). In contrast, benevolent sexism involves overall positive views of women, as long as they occupy traditionally feminine roles. Individuals with benevolently sexist beliefs characterize women as weak and needing protection, support, and adoration. Importantly, hostile and benevolent sexism tend to go hand-in-hand (with a typical correlation of 0.40; Glick et al., 2000 ). This is because ambivalent sexists, people who are high in benevolent and hostile sexism, believe that women should occupy restricted domestic roles and that women are weaker than men are ( Glick and Fiske, 1996 ). Ambivalent sexists reconcile their potentially contradictory attitudes about women by acting hostile toward women whom they believe are trying to steal men’s power (e.g., feminists, professionals who show competence) and by acting benevolently toward traditional women (e.g., homemakers) who reinforce conventional gender relations and who serve men ( Glick et al., 1997 ). An individual difference approach allows us to build on the earlier models ( Heilman, 1983 ; Eagly and Karau, 2002 ; Rudman et al., 2012 ), by specifying who is more likely to discriminate against women and why.

Organizational decision makers who are higher (vs. lower) in hostile sexism should discriminate more against women in HR-related decisions ( Glick et al., 1997 ; Masser and Abrams, 2004 ). For instance, people high in hostile sexism have been found to evaluate candidates, who are believed to be women, more negatively and give lower employment recommendations for a management position, compared with matched candidates believed to be men ( Salvaggio et al., 2009 ) 1 . In another study, among participants who evaluated a female candidate for a managerial position, those higher in hostile sexism were less likely to recommend her for hire, compared with those lower in hostile sexism ( Masser and Abrams, 2004 ). Interestingly, among those evaluating a matched man for the same position, those higher (vs. lower) in hostile sexism were more likely to recommend him for hire ( Masser and Abrams, 2004 ). According to ambivalent sexism theorists ( Glick et al., 1997 ), because people high in hostile sexism see women as a threat to men’s status, they act as gatekeepers denying women access to more prestigious or masculine jobs.

Furthermore, when enacting HR policies and decisions, organizational decision makers who are higher (vs. lower) in hostile sexism should discriminate more against women in the form of gender harassment. Gender harassment can involve hostile terms of address, negative comments regarding women in management, sexist jokes, and sexist behavior ( Fitzgerald et al., 1995a , b ). It has been found that people higher (vs. lower) in hostile sexism have more lenient attitudes toward the sexual harassment of women, which involves gender harassment, in the workplace ( Begany and Milburn, 2002 ; Russell and Trigg, 2004 ). Furthermore, men who more strongly believe that women are men’s adversaries tell more sexist jokes to a woman ( Mitchell et al., 2004 ). Women also report experiencing more incivility (i.e., low level, rude behavior) in the workplace than men ( Björkqvist et al., 1994 ; Cortina et al., 2001 , 2002 ), which could be due to hostile attitudes toward women. In summary, the evidence is consistent with the idea that organizational decision makers’ hostile sexism should predict their gender harassing behavior during HR enactment; however, more research is needed for such a conclusion.

In addition, organizational decision makers who are higher (vs. lower) in benevolent sexism should discriminate more against women when making HR-related decisions. It has been found that people higher (vs. lower) in benevolent sexism are more likely to automatically associate men with high-authority and women with low-authority roles and to implicitly stereotype men as agentic and women as communal ( Rudman and Kilianski, 2000 ). Thus, organizational decision makers who are higher (vs. lower) in benevolent sexism should more strongly believe that women are unfit for organizational roles that are demanding, challenging, and requiring agentic behavior. Indeed, in studies of male MBA students those higher (vs. lower) in benevolent sexism assigned a fictional woman less challenging tasks than a matched man ( King et al., 2012 ). The researchers reasoned that this occurred because men are attempting to “protect” women from the struggles of challenging work. Although there has been little research conducted that has looked at benevolent sexism and gender discrimination in HR-related decisions, the findings are consistent with our model.

Finally, organizational decision makers who are higher (vs. lower) in benevolent sexism should engage in a complex form of gender discrimination when enacting HR policy and decisions that involves mixed messages: women are more likely to receive messages of positive verbal feedback (e.g., “stellar work,” “excellent work”) but lower numeric ratings on performance appraisals, compared with men ( Biernat et al., 2012 ). It is proposed that this pattern of giving women positive messages about their performance while rating them poorly reflects benevolent sexists’ desire to protect women from harsh criticism. However, given that performance appraisals are used for promotion decisions and that constructive feedback is needed for learning, managers’ unwillingness to give women negative verbal criticisms can lead to skill plateau and career stagnation.

Furthermore, exposure to benevolent sexism can harm women’s motivation, goals and performance. Adolescent girls whose mothers are high in benevolent (but not hostile) sexism display lower academic goals and academic performance ( Montañés et al., 2012 ). Of greater relevance to the workplace, when role-playing a job candidate, women who interacted with a hiring manager scripted to make benevolently sexist statements became preoccupied with thoughts about their incompetence, and consequently performed worse in the interview, compared with those in a control condition ( Dardenne et al., 2007 ). These findings suggest that benevolent sexism during the enactment of HR practices can harm women’s work-related motivation and goals, as well as their performance, which can result in a self-fulfilling prophecy ( Word et al., 1974 ). In other words, the low expectations benevolent sexists have of women can be confirmed by women as they are undermined by paternalistic messages.

Ambivalent sexism can operate to harm women’s access to jobs, opportunities for development, ratings of performance, and lead to stigmatization. However, hostile and benevolent sexism operate in different ways. Hostile sexism has direct negative consequences for women’s access to high status, male-typed jobs ( Masser and Abrams, 2004 ; Salvaggio et al., 2009 ), and it is related to higher rates of sexual harassment ( Fitzgerald et al., 1995b ; Mitchell et al., 2004 ; Russell and Trigg, 2004 ), which negatively affect women’s health, well-being, and workplace withdrawal behaviors ( Willness et al., 2007 ). In contrast, benevolent sexism has indirect negative consequences for women’s careers, for instance, in preventing access to challenging tasks ( King et al., 2012 ) and critical developmental feedback ( Vescio et al., 2005 ). Interestingly, exposure to benevolent sexism results in worsened motivation and cognitive performance, compared with exposure to hostile sexism ( Dardenne et al., 2007 ; Montañés et al., 2012 ). This is because women more easily recognize hostile sexism as a form of discrimination and inequality, compared with benevolent sexism, which can be more subtle in nature ( Dardenne et al., 2007 ). Thus, women can externalize hostile sexism and mobilize against it, but the subtle nature of benevolent sexism prevents these processes ( Kay et al., 2005 ; Becker and Wright, 2011 ). Therefore, hostile and benevolent sexism lead to different but harmful forms of HR discrimination. Future research should more closely examine their potentially different consequences.

Thus far, we have articulated how gender inequalities in organizational structures, processes, and practices can affect discrimination in HR policy and in HR-related decision-making and enactment. Furthermore, we have argued that organizational decision makers’ levels of hostile and benevolent sexism are critical factors leading to personal discrimination in HR-related decision-making and enactment, albeit in different forms. We now turn to an integration of these two phenomena.

The Effect of Organizational Structures, Processes, and Practices on Organizational Decision Makers’ Levels of Hostile and Benevolent Sexism

Organizational decision makers’ beliefs about men and women should be affected by the work environments in which they are embedded. Thus, when there are more gender inequalities within organizational structures, processes, and practices, organizational decision makers should have higher levels of hostile sexism and benevolent sexism. Two inter-related processes can account for this proposition: the establishment of who becomes and remains an organizational member, and the socialization of organizational members.

First, as organizations develop over time, forces work to attract, select, and retain an increasingly homogenous set of employees in terms of their hostile and benevolent sexism ( Schneider, 1983 , 1987 ). In support of this perspective, an individual’s values tend to be congruent with the values in his or her work environment (e.g., Holland, 1996 ; Kristof-Brown et al., 2005 ). People are attracted to and choose to work for organizations that have characteristics similar to their own, and organizations select individuals who are likely to fit with the organization. Thus, more sexist individuals are more likely to be attracted to organizations with greater gender inequality in leadership, structure, strategy, culture, climate, and HR policy; and they will be seen as a better fit during recruitment and selection. Finally, individuals who do not fit with the organization tend to leave voluntarily through the process of attrition. Thus, less (vs. more) sexist individuals would be more likely to leave a workplace with marked gender inequalities in organizational structures, processes, and practices. The opposite should be true for organizations with high gender equality. Through attraction, selection, and attrition processes it is likely that organizational members will become more sexist in a highly gender unequal organization and less sexist in a highly gender equal organization.

Second, socialization processes can change organizational members’ personal attributes, goals, and values to match those of the organization ( Ostroff and Rothausen, 1997 ). Organizational members’ receive both formal and informal messages about gender inequality—or equality—within an organization through their orientation and training, reading of organizational policy, perceptions of who rises in the ranks, how women (vs. men) are treated within the organization, as well as their perception of climates for diversity and sexual harassment. Socialization of organizational members over time has been shown to result in organizational members’ values and personalities changing to better match the values of the organization ( Kohn and Schooler, 1982 ; Cable and Parsons, 2001 ).

These socialization processes can operate to change organizational members’ levels of sexism. It is likely that within more sexist workplaces, people’s levels of hostile and benevolent sexism increase because their normative beliefs shift due to exposure to institutional discrimination against women, others’ sexist attitudes and behavior, and gender bias in culture and climate ( Schwartz and DeKeseredy, 2000 ; Ford et al., 2008 ; Banyard et al., 2009 ). These processes can also lead organizational decision makers to adopt less sexist attitudes in a workplace context marked by greater gender equality. Thus, organizational members’ levels of hostile and benevolent sexism can be shaped by the degree of gender inequalities in organizational structures, processes, and practices and by the sexism levels of their work colleagues.

In addition, organizational decision makers can be socialized to act in discriminatory ways without personally becoming more sexist. If organizational decision makers witness others acting in a discriminatory manner with positive consequences, or acting in an egalitarian way with negative consequences, they can learn to become more discriminatory in their HR practices through observational learning ( Bandura, 1977 , 1986 ). So, organizational decision makers could engage in personal discrimination without being sexist if they perceive that the fair treatment of women in HR would encounter resistance given the broader organizational structures, processes, and practices promoting gender inequality. Yet over time, given cognitive dissonance ( Festinger, 1962 ), it is likely that discriminatory behavior could induce attitude change among organizational decision makers to become more sexist.

Thus far we have argued that gender inequalities in organizational structures, processes, and practices, organizational decision makers’ sexist attitudes, and gender discrimination in HR practices can have reciprocal, reinforcing relationships. Thus, it may appear that we have created a model that is closed and determinate in nature; however, this would be a misinterpretation. In the following section, we outline how organizations marked by gender inequalities can reduce discrimination against women.

How to Reduce Gender Discrimination in Organizations

The model we present for understanding gender discrimination in HR practices is complex. We believe that such complexity is necessary to accurately reflect the realities of organizational life. The model demonstrates that many sources of gender inequality are inter-related and have reciprocal effects. By implication, there are no simple or direct solutions to reduce gender discrimination in organizations. Rather, this complex problem requires multiple solutions. In fact, as discussed by Gelfand et al. (2007) , if an organization attempts to correct discrimination in only one aspect of organizational structure, process, or practice, and not others, such change attempts will be ineffective due to mixed messages. Therefore, we outline below how organizations can reduce gender discrimination by focusing on (a) HR policies (i.e., diversity initiatives and family friendly policies) and closely related organizational structures, processes, and practices; (b) HR-related decision-making and enactment; as well as, (c) the organizational decision makers who engage in such actions.

Reducing Gender Discrimination in HR Policy and Associated Organizational Structures, Processes, and Practices

Organizations can take steps to mitigate discrimination in HR policies. As a first example, let us consider how an organization can develop, within its HR systems, diversity initiatives aimed at changing the composition of the workforce that includes policies to recruit, retain, and develop employees from underrepresented groups ( Jayne and Dipboye, 2004 ). Diversity initiatives can operate like affirmative action programs in that organizations track and monitor (a) the number of qualified candidates from different groups (e.g., women vs. men) in a pool, and (b) the number of candidates from each group hired or promoted. When the proportion of candidates from a group successfully selected varies significantly from their proportion in the qualified pool then action, such as targeted recruitment efforts, needs to be taken.

Importantly, such efforts to increase diversity can be strengthened by other HR policies that reward managers, who select more diverse personnel, with bonuses ( Jayne and Dipboye, 2004 ). Organizations that incorporate diversity-based criteria into their performance and promotion policies and offer meaningful incentives to managers to identify and develop successful female candidates for promotion are more likely to succeed in retaining and promoting diverse talent ( Murphy and Cleveland, 1995 ; Cleveland et al., 2000 ). However, focusing on short-term narrowly defined criteria, such as increasing the number of women hired, without also focusing on candidates’ merit and providing an adequate climate or support for women are unlikely to bring about any long-term change in diversity, and can have detrimental consequences for its intended beneficiaries ( Heilman et al., 1992 , 1997 ). Rather, to be successful, HR policies for diversity need to be supported by the other organizational structures, processes, and practices, such as strategy, leadership, and climate.

For instance, diversity initiatives should be linked to strategies to create a business case for diversity ( Jayne and Dipboye, 2004 ). An organization with a strategy to market to more diverse populations can justify that a more diverse workforce can better serve potential clientele ( Jayne and Dipboye, 2004 ). Alternatively, an organization that is attempting to innovate and grow might justify a corporate strategy to increase diversity on the grounds that diverse groups have multiple perspectives on a problem with the potential to generate more novel, creative solutions ( van Knippenberg et al., 2004 ). Furthermore, organizational leaders must convey strong support for the HR policies for them to be successful ( Rynes and Rosen, 1995 ). Given the same HR policy within an organization, leaders’ personal attitudes toward the policy affects the discrimination levels found within their unit ( Pryor, 1995 ; Pryor et al., 1995 ). Finally, diversity programs are more likely to succeed in multicultural organizations with strong climates for diversity ( Elsass and Graves, 1997 ; Jayne and Dipboye, 2004 ). An organization’s climate for diversity consists of employees’ shared perceptions that the organization’s structures, processes, and practices are committed to maintaining diversity and eliminating discrimination ( Nishii and Raver, 2003 ; Gelfand et al., 2007 ). In organizations where employees perceive a strong climate for diversity, diversity programs result in greater employee attraction and retention among women and minorities, at all levels of the organization ( Cox and Blake, 1991 ; Martins and Parsons, 2007 ).

As a second example of how HR policies can mitigate gender inequalities, we discuss HR policies to lessen employees’ experience of work-family conflict. Work-family conflict is a type of role conflict that workers experience when the demands (e.g., emotional, cognitive, time) of their work role interfere with the demands of their family role or vice versa ( Greenhaus and Beutell, 1985 ). Work-family conflict has the negative consequences of increasing employee stress, illness-related absence, and desire to turnover ( Grandey and Cropanzano, 1999 ). Importantly, women are more adversely affected by work-family conflict than men ( Martins et al., 2002 ). Work-family conflict can be exacerbated by HR policies that evaluate employees based on face time (i.e., number of hours present at the office), as a proxy for organizational commitment ( Perlow, 1995 ; Elsbach et al., 2010 ).

Formal family friendly HR policies can be adopted to relieve work-family conflict directly, which differentially assists women in the workplace. For instance, to reduce work-family conflict, organizations can implement HR policies such as flexible work arrangements, which involve flexible schedules, telecommuting, compressed work weeks, job-shares, and part-time work ( Galinsky et al., 2008 ). In conjunction with other family friendly policies, such as the provision of childcare, elderly care, and paid maternity leave, organizations can work to reduce stress and improve the retention of working mothers ( Burke, 2002 ).

Unfortunately, it has been found that the enactment of flexible work policies can still lead to discrimination. Organizational decision makers’ sexism can lead them to grant more flexible work arrangements to white men than to women and other minorities because white men are seen as more valuable ( Kelly and Kalev, 2006 ). To circumvent this, organizations need to formalize HR policies relating to flexible work arrangements ( Kelly and Kalev, 2006 ). For instance, formal, written policies should articulate who can adopt flexible work arrangements (e.g., employees in specific divisions or with specific job roles) and what such arrangements look like (e.g., core work from 10 am to 3 pm with flexible work hours from 7 to 10 am or from 3 to 6 pm). When the details of such policies are formally laid out, organizational decision makers have less latitude and therefore less opportunity for discrimination in granting access to these arrangements.

To be successful, family friendly HR policies should be tied to other organizational structures, processes, and practices such as organizational strategy, leadership, culture, and climate. A business case for flexible work arrangements can be made because they attract and retain top-talent, which includes women ( Baltes et al., 1999 ). Furthermore, organizational leaders must convey strong support for family friendly programs ( Jayne and Dipboye, 2004 ). Leaders can help bolster the acceptance of family friendly policies through successive interactions, communications, visibility, and role modeling with employees. For instance, a leader who sends emails at 2 o’clock in the morning is setting a different expectation of constant availability than a leader who never sends emails after 7:00 pm. Family friendly HR policies must also be supported by simultaneously changing the underlying organizational culture that promotes face time. Although it is difficult to change the culture of an organization, the leaders’ of the organization play an influential role in instilling such change because the behaviors of leaders are antecedents and triggers of organizational culture ( Kozlowski and Doherty, 1989 ; Ostroff et al., 2012 ). In summary, HR policies must be supported by other organizational structures, processes, and practices in order for these policies to be effective.

Adopting HR diversity initiative policies and family friendly policies can reduce gender discrimination and reshape the other organizational structures, processes, and practices and increase gender equality in them. Specifically, such policies, if successful, should increase the number of women in all departments and at all levels of an organization. Further, having more women in leadership positions signals to organizational members that the organization takes diversity seriously, affecting the diversity climate of the organization, and ultimately its culture ( Konrad et al., 2010 ). Thus, particular HR policies can reduce gender inequalities in all of the other organizational structures, processes, and practices.

Reducing Gender Discrimination in HR-Related Decision-Making and Enactment

A wealth of research demonstrates that an effective means of reducing personal bias by organizational decision makers in HR practices is to develop HR policies that standardize and objectify performance data (e.g., Konrad and Linnehan, 1995 ; Reskin and McBrier, 2000 ). To reduce discrimination in personnel decisions (i.e., employee hiring and promotion decisions) a job analysis should be performed to determine the appropriate knowledge skills and abilities needed for specific positions ( Fine and Cronshaw, 1999 ). This ensures that expectations about characteristics of the ideal employee for that position are based on accurate knowledge of the job and not gender stereotypes about the job ( Welle and Heilman, 2005 ). To reduce discrimination in performance evaluations, HR policies should necessitate the use of reliable measures based on explicit objective performance expectations and apply these practices consistently across all worker evaluations ( Bernardin et al., 1998 ; Ittner et al., 2003 ). Employees’ performance should be evaluated using behaviorally anchored rating scales ( Smith and Kendall, 1963 ) that allow supervisors to rate subordinates on examples of actual work behaviors. These evaluations should be done regularly, given that delays require retrieving memories of work performance and this process can be biased by gender stereotypes ( Sanchez and De La Torre, 1996 ). Finally, if greater gender differences are found on selection tests than on performance evaluations, then the use of such biased selection tests needs to be revisited ( Chung-Yan and Cronshaw, 2002 ). In summary, developing HR policies that standardize and objectify the process of employee/candidate evaluations can reduce personal bias in HR practices.

Importantly, the level of personal discrimination enacted by organizational decision makers can be reduced by formalizing HR policies, and by controlling the situations under which HR-related decisions are made. We have articulated how HR-related decisions involve social cognition and are therefore susceptible to biases introduced by the use of gender stereotypes. This can occur unwittingly by those who perceive themselves to be unprejudiced but who are affected by stereotypes or negative automatic associations nonetheless ( Chugh, 2004 ; Son Hing et al., 2008 ). For instance, when HR policies do not rely on objective criteria, and the context for evaluation is ambiguous, organizational decision makers will draw on gender (and other) stereotypes to fill in the blanks when evaluating candidates ( Heilman, 1995 , 2001 ). Importantly, the context can be constructed in such a way as to reduce these biases. For instance, organizational decision makers will make less biased judgments of others if they have more time available to evaluate others, are less cognitively busy ( Martell, 1991 ), have higher quality of information available about candidates, and are accountable for justifying their ratings and decisions ( Kulik and Bainbridge, 2005 ; Roberson et al., 2007 ). Thus, if they have the time, motivation, and opportunity to make well-informed, more accurate judgments, then discrimination in performance ratings can be reduced.

Reducing Organizational Decision Makers’ Sexism

Another means to reduce gender discrimination in HR-related decision-making and enactment is to focus directly on reducing the hostile and benevolent sexist beliefs of organizational decision makers. Interventions aimed at reducing these beliefs typically involve diversity training, such as a seminar, course, or workshop. Such training involves one or more sessions that involve interactive discussions, lectures, and practical assignments. During the training men and women are taught about sexism and how gender roles in society are socially constructed. Investigations have shown these workshop-based interventions are effective at reducing levels of hostile sexism but have inconsistent effects on benevolent sexism ( Case, 2007 ; de Lemus et al., 2014 ). The subtle, and in some ways positive nature of benevolent sexism makes it difficult to confront and reduce using such interventions. However, levels of benevolent sexism are reduced when individuals are explicitly informed about the harmful implications of benevolent sexism ( Becker and Swim, 2012 ). Unfortunately, these interventions have not been tested in organizational settings. So their efficacy in the field is unknown.

Gender inequality in organizations is a complex phenomenon that can be seen in HR practices (i.e., policies, decision-making, and their enactment) that affects the hiring, training, pay, and promotion of women. We propose that gender discrimination in HR-related decision-making and the enactment of HR practices stems from gender inequalities in broader organizational structures, processes, and practices, including HR policy but also leadership, structure, strategy, culture, and organizational climate. Moreover, reciprocal effects should occur, such that discriminatory HR practices can perpetuate gender inequalities in organizational leadership, structure, strategy, culture, and climate. Organizational decision makers also play an important role in gender discrimination. We propose that personal discrimination in HR-related decisions and enactment arises from organizational decision makers’ levels of hostile and benevolent sexism. While hostile sexism can lead to discrimination against women because of a desire to keep them from positions of power, benevolent sexism can lead to discrimination against women because of a desire to protect them. Finally, we propose that gender inequalities in organizational structures, processes, and practices affect organizational decision makers’ sexism through attraction, selection, socialization, and attrition processes. Thus, a focus on organizational structure, processes, and practices is critical.

The model we have developed extends previous work by Gelfand et al. (2007) in a number of substantive ways. Gelfand et al. (2007) proposed that aspects of the organization, that is, structure, organizational culture, leadership, strategy, HR systems, and organizational climates, are all interrelated and may contribute to or attenuate discrimination (e.g., racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia). First, we differ from their work by emphasizing that workplace discrimination is most directly attributable to HR practices. Consequently, we emphasize how inequalities in other organizational structures, processes, and practices affect institutional discrimination in HR policy. Second, our model differs from that of Gelfand et al. (2007) in that we focus on the role of organizational decision makers in the enactment of HR policy. The attitudes of these decision makers toward specific groups of employees are critical. However, the nature of prejudice differs depending on the target group ( Son Hing and Zanna, 2010 ). Therefore, we focus on one form of bias—sexism—in the workplace. Doing so, allows us to draw on more nuanced theories of prejudice, namely ambivalent sexism theory ( Glick and Fiske, 1996 ). Thus, third, our model differs from the work of Gelfand et al. (2007) by considering how dual beliefs about women (i.e., hostile and benevolent beliefs) can contribute to different forms of gender discrimination in HR practices. Fourth, we differ from Gelfand et al. (2007) by reviewing how organizational decision makers’ level of sexism within an organization is affected by organizational structures, processes, and practices via selection-attraction-attrition processes and through socialization processes.

However, the model we have developed is not meant to be exhaustive. There are multiple issues that we have not addressed but should be considered: what external factors feed into our model? What other links within the model might arise? What are the limits to its generalizability? What consequences derive from our model? How can change occur given a model that is largely recursive in nature? We focus on these issues throughout our conclusion.

In this paper, we have illustrated what we consider to be the dominant links in our model; however, additional links are possible. First, we do not lay out the factors that feed into our model, such as government regulations, the economy, their competitors, and societal culture. In future work, one could analyze the broader context that organizations operate in, which influences its structures, processes, and practices, as well as its members. For instance, in societies marked by greater gender inequalities, the levels of hostile and benevolent sexism of organizational decision makers will be higher ( Glick et al., 2000 ). Second, there is no link demonstrating how organizational decision makers who are more sexist have the capacity, even if they sit lower in the organizational hierarchy, to influence the amount of gender inequality in organizational structures, processes, and practices. It is possible for low-level managers or HR personnel who express more sexist sentiments to—through their own behavior—affect others’ perceptions of the tolerance for discrimination in the workplace ( Ford et al., 2001 ) and others’ perceptions of the competence and hireability of female job candidates ( Good and Rudman, 2010 ). Thus, organizational decision makers’ levels of hostile and benevolent sexism can affect organizational climates, and potentially other organizational structures, processes, and practices. Third, it is possible that organizational structures, processes, and practices could moderate the link between organizational decision makers’ sexist attitudes and their discriminatory behavior in HR practices. The ability of people to act in line with their attitudes depends on the strength of the constraints in the social situation and the broader context ( Lewin, 1935 , 1951 ). Thus, if organizational structures, processes, and practices clearly communicate the importance of gender equality then the discriminatory behavior of sexist organizational decision makers should be constrained. Accordingly, organizations should take steps to mitigate institutional discrimination by focusing on organizational structures, processes, and practices rather than focusing solely on reducing sexism in individual employees.

Our model does not consider how women’s occupational status is affected by their preferences for gender-role-consistent careers and their childcare and family responsibilities, which perhaps should not be underestimated (e.g., Manne, 2001 ; Hakim, 2006 ; Ceci et al., 2009 ). In other words, lifestyle preferences could contribute to gender differences in the workplace. However, it is important to consider how women’s agency in choosing occupations and managing work-life demands is constrained. Gender imbalances (e.g., in pay) in the workplace (e.g., Moss-Racusin et al., 2012 ; Sheltzer and Smith, 2014 ) and gender imbalances in the home (e.g., in domestic labor, childcare; Bianchi, 2000 ; Bianchi et al., 2000 ) shape the decisions that couples (when they consist of a woman and a man) make about how to manage dual careers. For instance, research has uncovered that women with professional degrees leave the labor force at roughly three times the rate of men ( Baker, 2002 ). Women’s decisions to interrupt their careers were difficult and were based on factors, such as workplace inflexibility, and their husbands’ lack of domestic responsibilities, rather than a preference to stay at home with their children ( Stone and Lovejoy, 2004 ). Thus, both factors inside and outside the workplace constrain and shape women’s career decisions.

Our model is derived largely from research that has been conducted in male-dominated organizations; however, we speculate that it should hold for female-dominated organizations. There is evidence that tokenism does not work against men in terms of their promotion potential in female-dominated environments. Rather, there is some evidence for a glass-escalator effect for men in female-dominated fields, such as nursing, and social work ( Williams, 1992 ). In addition, regardless of the gender composition of the workplace, men are advantaged, compared with women in terms of earnings and wage growth ( Budig, 2002 ). Finally, even in female-dominated professions, segregation along gender lines occurs in organizational structure ( Snyder and Green, 2008 ). Thus, the literature suggests that our model should hold for female-dominated environments.

Some might question if our model assumes that organizational decision makers enacting HR practices are men. It does not. There is evidence that decision makers who are women also discriminate against women (e.g., the Queen Bee phenomenon; Ellemers et al., 2004 ). Further, although men are higher in hostile sexism, compared with women ( Glick et al., 1997 , 2000 ), they are not necessarily higher in benevolent sexism ( Glick et al., 2000 ). More importantly, the effects of hostile and benevolent sexism are not moderated by participant gender ( Masser and Abrams, 2004 ; Salvaggio et al., 2009 ; Good and Rudman, 2010 ). Thus, those who are higher in hostile or benevolent sexism respond in a more discriminatory manner, regardless of whether they are men or women. Thus, organizational decision makers, regardless of their sex, should discriminate more against women in HR practices when they are higher in hostile or benevolent sexism.

In future work, the consequences of our model for women discriminated against in HR practices should be considered. The negative ramifications of sexism and discrimination on women are well known: physical and psychological stress, worse physical health (e.g., high blood pressure, ulcers, anxiety, depression; Goldenhar et al., 1998 ); lower job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and attachment to work ( Murrell et al., 1995 ; Hicks-Clarke and Iles, 2000 ); lower feelings of power and prestige ( Gutek et al., 1996 ); and performance decrements through stereotype threat ( Spencer et al., 1999 ). However, how might these processes differ depending on the proximal cause of the discrimination?

Our model lays out two potential paths by which women might be discriminated against in HR practices: institutional discrimination stemming from organizational structures, processes, and practices and personal discrimination stemming from organizational decision makers’ levels of sexism. In order for the potential stressor of stigmatization to lead to psychological and physical stress it must be seen as harmful and self-relevant ( Son Hing, 2012 ). Thus, if institutional discrimination in organizational structures, processes, and practices are completely hidden then discrimination might not cause stress reactions associated with stigmatization because it may be too difficult for women to detect ( Crosby et al., 1986 ; Major, 1994 ), and label as discrimination ( Crosby, 1984 ; Stangor et al., 2003 ). In contrast, women should be adversely affected by stigmatization in instances where gender discrimination in organizational structures, processes, and practices is more evident. For instance, greater perceptions of discrimination are associated with lower self-esteem in longitudinal studies ( Schmitt et al., 2014 ).

It might appear that we have created a model, which is a closed system, with no opportunities to change an organization’s trajectory: more unequal organizations will become more hierarchical, and more equal organizations will become more egalitarian. We do not believe this to be true. One potential impetus for organizations to become more egalitarian may be some great shock such as sex-based discrimination lawsuits that the organization either faces directly or sees its competitors suffer. Large corporations have been forced to settle claims of gender harassment and gender discrimination with payouts upward of $21 million ( Gilbert v. DaimlerChrysler Corp., 2004 ; LexisNexis, 2010 ; Velez, et al. v. Novartis Pharmaceuticals Crop, et al., 2010 ). Discrimination lawsuits are time consuming and costly ( James and Wooten, 2006 ), resulting in lower shares, lower public perceptions, higher absenteeism, and higher turnover ( Wright et al., 1995 ). Expensive lawsuits experienced either directly or indirectly should act as a big driver in the need for change.

Furthermore, individual women can work to avoid stigmatization. Women in the workplace are not simply passive targets of stereotyping processes. People belonging to stigmatized groups can engage in a variety of anti-stigmatization techniques, but their response options are constrained by the cultural repertoires available to them ( Lamont and Mizrachi, 2012 ). In other words, an organization’s culture will provide its members with a collective imaginary for how to behave. For instance, it might be unimaginable for a woman to file a complaint of sexual harassment if she knows that complaints are never taken seriously. Individuals do negotiate stigmatization processes; however, this is more likely when stigmatization is perceived as illegitimate and when they have the resources to do so ( Major and Schmader, 2001 ). Thus, at an individual level, people engage in strategies to fight being discriminated against but these strategies are likely more constrained for those who are most stigmatized.

Finally, possibly the most efficacious way for organizational members (men and women) to challenge group-based inequality and to improve the status of women as a whole is to engage in collective action (e.g., participate in unions, sign petitions, organize social movements, recruit others to join a movement; Klandermans, 1997 ; Wright and Lubensky, 2009 ). People are most likely to engage in collective action when they perceive group differences as underserved or illegitimate ( Wright, 2001 ). Such a sense of relative deprivation involves feelings of injustice and anger that prompt a desire for wide scale change ( van Zomeren et al., 2008 ). Interestingly, people are more likely to experience relative deprivation when inequalities have begun to be lessened, and thus their legitimacy questioned ( Crosby, 1984 ; Kawakami and Dion, 1993 ; Stangor et al., 2003 ). If organizational leaders respond to such demands for change by altering previously gender oppressive organizational structures, processes, and practices, this can, in people’s minds, open the door for additional changes. Therefore, changes to mitigate gender inequalities within any organizational structure, policy, or practice could start a cascade of transformations leading to a more equal organization for men and women.

Conflict of Interest Statement

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.


This research was supported by funding from the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) awarded to Leanne S. Son Hing.

1 In this study, candidates were identified with initials and participants were asked to indicate the presumed gender of the candidate after evaluating them.

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Guinea: Technical Assistance Report-Climate Change and Gender Budgeting

Publication Date:

May 24, 2024

Electronic Access:

Free Download . Use the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view this PDF file

[This report is only available in French] This technical report discusses ways to introduce climate and gender budgeting (CGB) in Guinea’s budget cycle. To this end, it develops an integrated approach to incorporate into the budget cycle both climate and gender (CG) aspects, as part of priorities-based budgeting, which could serve in similar contexts. Moreover, there was no program-based budget, as tagging climate and gender expenditures at the level of a program is more comprehensive and commonly suggested. The report supports that the introduction of CGB would facilitate and inform program budgeting initiatives. In Guinea, integrating climate aspects in the budget cycle face several challenges, including a proliferation of institutions involved. On gender, despite the adoption of key legislation and a national strategy on gender equality, there were limited sectoral diagnostics and sex-disaggregated statistics to cover gender transversality. The implementation of CG related national strategies is not completely translated into measures, actions, and associated costs. In addition to proposing a method for CGB tagging, this report proposes six high-priority recommendations that could significantly help integrate CG in the budget cycle in the short to medium term. The report also includes a couple of tools, which would help to successfully introduce and present CG aspects in the budget cycle. Guinea; Climate change; gender inequality; Budget cycle; budget planning and preparation; program-based budgeting; public investment spending; fiscal reporting; expending tagging; public financial management.

Technical Assistance Report No. 2024/046

International organization Monetary policy



Please address any questions about this title to [email protected]


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    The vast majority of theories reviewed argue that gender inequality is a barrier to economic development, particularly over the long run. The focus on long-run supply-side models reflects a recent effort by growth theorists to incorporate two stylized facts of economic development in the last two centuries: (i) a strong positive association between gender equality and income per capita (Fig. 1 ...

  6. Gender equality in the workplace: An introduction.

    SCIENTIFIC The special section that we have assembled includes 10 papers that address some aspects related to gender inequities in the workplace. Specifically, these papers address (a) gender bias in winning prestigious awards in neuroscience, (b) supporting women in STEM, (c) women's concerns about potential sexism, (d) unique challenges faced by STEM faculty, (e) the double jeopardy of ...

  7. PDF Gender Equality in the Workplace: An Introduction

    mediated by a gender difference in total cites and h-index. Their results point to the notion that gender schemas may lead to women's articles' receiving fewer citations than do men's, resulting in more prestigious awards for men than for women. They conclude by de-scribing what needs to be done to promote gender equality in aca-demic awards.


    linked to gender inequality in Sub-Saharan Africa? These papers will seek to shed light on the general connection between poor governance and gender inequality in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and Sub-Saharan Africa. Saudi Arabia will be used as a case study representing the Middle East and North Africa.

  9. PDF Exploring Gender Equality and Women'S Empowerment: a Critical ...

    the global labour force, gender inequality is still prevailing. The formal commitment of ... 2.3 Gender Equality as a Matter of Human Rights 42 2.4 The Concept of Women's Empowerment 44 2.5 Contributions of Feminist Theories 47 ... CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION This Master's thesis is a case study of the gender equality and women's .


    Introduction 9 Anuradha Seth Chapter 1. Conceptualizing Gender-Equitable Inclusive Growth 20 Diane Elson and Marzia Fontana Chapter 2. Tools of Macroeconomic Policy: Fiscal, Monetary and Macroprudential Approaches 46 Stephanie Seguino Chapter 3. Gender-Inclusive Industrialization for Growth and Development in the Context of Globalization 76

  11. Gender Inequality Essay for Students

    Answer 2: The gender inequality essay tells us that gender inequality impacts us badly. It takes away opportunities from deserving people. Moreover, it results in discriminatory behaviour towards people of a certain gender. Finally, it also puts people of a certain gender in dangerous situations. Share with friends.

  12. PDF Gender equality attitudes study 2019

    challenging discriminatory attitudes and gender roles that perpetuate gender inequality and women's subordinate status in society. Key messages emanating from the 10-country pilot study include: Key Message 1: People are aware of gender inequalities faced by women across development dimensions. Gaps are perceived to be smaller or nonexistent in

  13. Gender Inequality

    182 essay samples found. Gender inequality refers to the unequal treatment or perceptions of individuals based on their gender, manifesting in various areas like the workplace, political representation, and societal norms. Essays on gender inequality could explore historical and contemporary instances, the social and economic implications, and ...

  14. Women's and Gender Studies Theses and Dissertations

    Race and Gender in (Re)integration of Victim-Survivors of CSEC in a Community Advocacy Context, Joshlyn Lawhorn. PDF. Penalizing Pregnancy: A Feminist Legal Studies Analysis of Purvi Patel's Criminalization, Abby Schneller. PDF. A Queer and Crip Grotesque: Katherine Dunn's, Megan Wiedeman

  15. Gender inequities in the workplace: A holistic review of organizational

    9.1. Theoretical contributions and calls for future research. Our review of the literature has led us to create a model of gender inequities that develop from cumulative processes across the employee lifespan and that cascade across multiple levels: societal, organizational, interpersonal, and individual (see Fig. 1).The societal level refers to factors and processes occurring at the national ...

  16. Gender Equality and Equity Narratives Amongst Women in Nongovernmental

    any profession (e.g., gender equity; Chary, 2017; Comwall & Rivas, 2015). Although there was research on the policies related to gender equality and equity in the public and private sectors, narrative accounts that highlighted the influence of gender equality and equity on the shared lived experiences of women in registered NGOs needed to be

  17. Gender Inequality and Workplace Organizations: Understanding

    Abstract. The modern workplace is a pivotal arena for shaping societal gender inequalities. This chapter reviews theory and research on gender inequality in workplace organizations. We first ...

  18. 1.1 Introduction to Gender Inequality

    1.1 Introduction to Gender Inequality. ... The daily experience of gender inequality ranges from undermining portrayals of women in the media and underrepresentation of women in positions of power, to direct discrimination and breaches of their human rights. Social expectations and assumptions about the abilities, roles and opportunities which ...

  19. Gender Equality Essay Thesis Statement

    For example equal opportunity in competing for a certain position. So, Gender equality is when people of all genders have equal rights, responsibilities, and opportunities. Everyone is affected by gender inequality - women, men, trans and gender-diverse people, children, and families. It impacts people of all ages and backgrounds.

  20. MA Thesis: The Paradox/puzzle of Promoting Gender Equality in Education

    perception of gender equality and inequality because of the interplay between gender and violent conflict. This is often a neglected context in international goal setting. Gender equality is fundamental but we need to think strategically and contextually about aid programs and policy development in order to affect long term social change.

  21. PDF Gender Inequality and Women'S Participation in Household Decision

    This thesis entitled "Gender Inequality and Women's Participation in Household Decision-Making Process in Nepal (A Case Study of Jabdi VDC, Sarlahi)" has been prepared by Jamuna Gotame under my ... 1.2. Introduction of Study Area 15 1.3. Statement of the Problem 15 1.4. Objectives 18 1.5. Significance of the Study 19 1.6. Limitation of the Study 20

  22. Gender inequalities in the workplace: the effects of organizational

    Introduction. The workplace has sometimes been referred to as an inhospitable place for women due to the multiple forms of gender inequalities present (e.g., Abrams, 1991).Some examples of how workplace discrimination negatively affects women's earnings and opportunities are the gender wage gap (e.g., Peterson and Morgan, 1995), the dearth of women in leadership (Eagly and Carli, 2007), and ...

  23. Guinea: Technical Assistance Report-Climate Change and Gender Budgeting

    [This report is only available in French] This technical report discusses ways to introduce climate and gender budgeting (CGB) in Guinea's budget cycle. To this end, it develops an integrated approach to incorporate into the budget cycle both climate and gender (CG) aspects, as part of priorities-based budgeting, which could serve in similar contexts. Moreover, there was no program-based ...