Friday, October 21, 2011

Gender Bias Found In Evaluations At Wall Street Law Firm

A study of performance evaluations at a Wall Street law firm found pro male, anti female bias in the numerical ratings given to junior attorneys at the firm. The numerical ratings are used as the basis for promotions and partnerships.

From "The Language of Performance Evaluations: Gender-Based Shifts in Content and Consistency of Judgment" by Monica Biernat, University of Kansas, M. J. Tocci, Fulcrum Advisors, Pittsburgh, PA, and Joan C. Williams, University of California Hastings College of the Law, published in Social Psychological and Personality Science:
Given the masculine context of finance law, we predicted that male attorneys would receive more favorable numerical ratings than female attorneys in this Wall Street firm. This was indeed the case, and based on the requirement of high ratings for partnership, more men than women in this firm were headed toward partnership. Of course, this finding alone tells us little about the presence of gender bias, for it is possible that men were objectively ‘‘better’’ performers than women. But arguing against this possibility is the fact that the pro-male bias was not apparent in narrative comments, which revealed greater reference to positive performance words for women than men, and no sex differences in narrative ratings of technical competence and interpersonal warmth. If men were objectively better, one might expect to see evidence of this in all forms of evaluation.Furthermore, when even the best men and women were compared—those judged equally highly favorably in narrative mentions of partner likelihood and technical competence—men still fared better in terms of the numerical ratings they received....
Read the complete paper.

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