Gender Bias in Job Assignment: Evidence from Retail Frontline Managers

39 Pages Posted: 17 Feb 2021 Last revised: 2 Feb 2024

See all articles by Ruoran Chen

Ruoran Chen

Tsinghua University

Susan F. Lu

Purdue University - Krannert School of Management

Lauren Xiaoyuan Lu

Dartmouth College - Tuck School of Business

Simin Huang

Tsinghua University

Date Written: January 30, 2024

Abstract

While anecdotes suggest that workplace gender disparities may originate early in the management career hierarchy, the existing literature on this topic has not provided sufficient evidence due to lack of real-world personnel data concerning low-level managers. This study addresses this gap by examining the effect of gender on the job assignment of frontline managers in a large sportswear retail chain. Leveraging personnel, sales, and operational data, we employ a leave-out Jackknife instrumental variables estimation framework to uncover causal evidence of gender bias in store-manager assignment. We find that female managers generate higher store sales than their male counterparts at the margin of being assigned to stores with high sales potential versus stores with low sales potential. Further, we systematically rule out three alternative hypotheses related to managerial ability, preference, and career selection. Translating our findings into an actionable insight, we develop a gender inequity index (GII) to help organizations measure potential gender biases in job assignment. Applying this index to a simulation study using the retailer’s manager compensation data, we demonstrate the implications of gender-biased job assignment on the gender pay gap.

Keywords: gender bias, job assignment, performance, leadership, gender pay gap, retail operations, people-centric operations, Jackknife instrumental variables

Suggested Citation

Chen, Ruoran and Lu, Susan Feng and Lu, Lauren Xiaoyuan and Huang, Simin, Gender Bias in Job Assignment: Evidence from Retail Frontline Managers (January 30, 2024). Tuck School of Business Working Paper No. 3758149, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3758149 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3758149

Ruoran Chen

Tsinghua University ( email )

Beijing, 100084
China

Susan Feng Lu

Purdue University - Krannert School of Management ( email )

1310 Krannert Building
West Lafayette, IN 47907-1310
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/susanluhome/home

Lauren Xiaoyuan Lu (Contact Author)

Dartmouth College - Tuck School of Business ( email )

Hanover, NH 03755
United States

Simin Huang

Tsinghua University ( email )

Beijing, 100084
China

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