Onward and Upward? An Empirical Investigation of Gender and Promotions in Information Technology Services

Information Systems Research, Forthcoming

48 Pages Posted: 12 Feb 2020

See all articles by Nishtha Langer

Nishtha Langer

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Ram Gopal

University of Warwick

Ravi Bapna

University of Minnesota - Minneapolis

Date Written: November 7, 2019

Abstract

The shaky ascent of women up the organizational ladder is a critical factor that may contribute to the lack of women in IT. In this study, we examine the effect of gender on the likelihood of employee promotions. We further examine whether women get an equal lift in promotion likelihood from performance improvements, work experience, and training as men. We analyze archival promotions, demographic, human capital, and administrative data for 7004 employees at a leading IT services firm located in India for the years 2002-2007 and for multiple levels of promotions. We develop robust econometric models that consider employee heterogeneity to identify the differential effect of gender and performance on promotions. We find that contrary to expectations, women are more likely to be promoted, on average. However, looking deeper into the heterogeneous main effects using hierarchical Bayesian modeling reveals more nuanced insights. We find that, ceteris paribus, women realize less benefit from performance gains than men, less benefit from tenure within the focal firm, but more benefit from training than men. These results suggest that despite disparity in returns to performance and experience improvements, women can rely on signaling mechanisms such as training to restore parity in promotions. We find that the effect of gender and performance varies with the level of employee promotion; although not as much as men, women benefit more from performance gains at higher organizational levels. Our findings suggest several actionable managerial insights that can potentially make IT firms more inclusive and attractive to women.

Keywords: Gender, Women in IT, IT Human Capital, Performance, Training, Promotions, IT Services Industry

Suggested Citation

Langer, Nishtha and Gopal, Ram and Bapna, Ravi, Onward and Upward? An Empirical Investigation of Gender and Promotions in Information Technology Services (November 7, 2019). Information Systems Research, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3520765

Nishtha Langer (Contact Author)

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute ( email )

110 8th St
Lally School of Management
Troy, NY 12180
United States
+15182764414 (Phone)

Ram Gopal

University of Warwick ( email )

West Midlands, CV4 7AL
United Kingdom

Ravi Bapna

University of Minnesota - Minneapolis ( email )

321 19th Ave S
Information and Decision Sciences
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

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