Do Employer Preferences Contribute to Sticky Floors?

32 Pages Posted: 27 Sep 2014

See all articles by Stijn Baert

Stijn Baert

Ghent University; University of Antwerp; Catholic University of Louvain (UCL); Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

Ann-Sophie De Pauw

Vlerick Business School

Nick Deschacht

KU Leuven


We investigate the importance of employer preferences in explaining Sticky Floors, the pattern that women are, compared to men, less likely to start to climb the job ladder. To this end we perform a randomised field experiment in the Belgian labour market and test whether hiring discrimination based on gender is heterogeneous by the promotion characteristics of the selected jobs. We find that women get 33% less interview invitations when they apply for jobs implying a first promotion in functional level. On the other hand, their hiring chances are not significantly affected by the job authority level of the job.

Keywords: sticky floors, gender discrimination, hiring discrimination, labour market transitions, European labour markets

JEL Classification: J16, J71, M51, J41, C93

Suggested Citation

Baert, Stijn and De Pauw, Ann-Sophie and Deschacht, Nick, Do Employer Preferences Contribute to Sticky Floors?. IZA Discussion Paper No. 8447. Available at SSRN:

Stijn Baert (Contact Author)

Ghent University ( email )

University of Antwerp ( email )

Prinsstraat 13
Antwerp, Antwerp 2000

HOME PAGE: http://

Catholic University of Louvain (UCL) ( email )

Place Montesquieu, 3
Louvain-la-Neuve, 1348

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Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072


Ann-Sophie De Pauw

Vlerick Business School ( email )

Gent, BE-9000

Nick Deschacht

KU Leuven ( email )

Oude Markt 13
Leuven, Vlaams-Brabant 3000

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