21 Pages Posted: 11 Apr 2011
Date Written: January 31, 2011
With few exceptions, past research on the glass ceiling has assumed that the barriers to women’s advancement in organizations reflect sex differences in internal promotion processes. This assumption, however, has never before been the subject of close scrutiny. We examine sex differences in how are jobs filled - both internally and externally - across the levels of the hierarchy of a large BioPharma firm. There is an apparent “glass ceiling” observed among people filling these jobs: the percentage of females declines over increasing levels of the hierarchy. However, when considering the gender distribution of the pool of candidates for these openings, among both internals and externals, we find that women are more likely than men to be hired. We find that this female advantage declines as one goes up the hierarchy, but only weak evidence for the glass ceiling argument that women experience barriers to access for jobs at higher levels of the organization. Contrary to the glass door theory, we find little evidence that women experience barriers in external hiring. Women are more likely than men to be hired from outside the firm, and this pattern does not decline as one goes up the levels of the organizational hierarchy. For both internals and externals, a key factor producing differences in gender composition across levels of the organization is the gendered nature of the candidate pools for jobs at different levels.
Keywords: Glass ceiling, Gender Inequality, Internal Labor Markets, Hiring
JEL Classification: J10, J16, J24, J31, J41, J7, M51, M59
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Fernandez, Roberto M. and Abraham, Mabel, Glass Ceilings and Glass Doors? Internal and External Hiring in an Organizational Hierarchy (January 31, 2011). MIT Sloan Research Paper No. 4895-11. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1804896 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1804896