What If Your Boss is a Woman? Work Organization, Work-Life Balance and Gender Discrimination at the Workplace

41 Pages Posted: 15 Feb 2016

See all articles by Claudio Lucifora

Claudio Lucifora

Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore di Milano ; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Daria Vigani

Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore

Abstract

In this paper, we investigate the association between female leadership, work organization practices and perceived gender discrimination within firms. Using data for 30 European countries for the period 1995-2010, we find that having a female "boss" is associated with lower overall gender discrimination at work. The female boss effect, however, differs across gender: it is associated with lower discrimination among female employees, but higher among male employees. We also investigate the underlying mechanisms that shape gender discrimination within firms. We find evidence of a "women helping women" pattern through spill-over effects which reduce discrimination among women, but increase discrimination among men, particularly in female-dominated jobs. A better balance between work and life, a supportive work environment and flexible working time, particularly for women in high-skilled jobs, are shown to be effective in reducing gender discrimination. The above findings are robust to a number of specification changes and different sub-populations in our sample. Further, similar results are found when more traditional measures of gender imbalance, such as wages or career prospects, are used. Finally, to account for potential endogeneity and selection, arising from the non-random distribution of females in higher-rank jobs, we jointly estimate the selection process and the discrimination equation, finding support for a causal interpretation of the results.

Keywords: gender discrimination, female leadership, work organization

JEL Classification: J16, J70, J81

Suggested Citation

Lucifora, Claudio and Vigani, Daria, What If Your Boss is a Woman? Work Organization, Work-Life Balance and Gender Discrimination at the Workplace. IZA Discussion Paper No. 9737. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2732000

Claudio Lucifora (Contact Author)

Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore di Milano ( email )

Department of Economics and Finance
Largo Gemelli, 1
20123 Milano
Italy
+39 027 234 2525 (Phone)
+39 027 234 2781 (Fax)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Daria Vigani

Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore

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