Leadership Selection: Can Changing the Default Break the Glass Ceiling?
67 Pages Posted: 21 Aug 2017 Last revised: 23 Sep 2018
Date Written: September 12, 2018
Leadership selection in organizations often requires candidates to actively choose to express their interest in the position. We conjecture that such an Opt-in mechanism may contribute to the gender gap observed in leadership positions. We design an Opt-out mechanism where everyone qualified for the position is in the candidate pool by default and individuals can choose to opt out of the leadership selection process. Data from our experiments show that women are more likely to participate in the leadership selection process under the Opt-out mechanism and this can effectively reduce the gender gap in the selection process. When given a choice between the Opt-in and Opt-out mechanisms, individuals are equally likely to choose either one. We conclude that the Opt-out mechanism can be an effective and feasible way to break the glass ceiling.
Keywords: Gender inequality; Glass ceiling; Leadership selection; Defaults; Laboratory experiments
JEL Classification: C92, J16, D01
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation