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How shortlists for jobs block gender equality

To make the extra effort of making a longer shortlist for job positions can promote gender equality as the longer version often avoids listing just men for male jobs and vice versa, according to a study presented in the Harvard Business Review. Research across ten studies with diverse samples and contexts shows that adding a few more candidates can increase the gender diversity of the shortlist and reduce the odds that you’ll shun qualified female candidates simply because male candidates come to mind first.

”We encourage managers to consider the longer shortlist intervention alongside other interventions and initiatives designed to promote gender diversity along the professional advancement pathway”, write researchers Brian J Lucas, Laura M Giurge, Zachariah Berry and Dolly Chugh.

”But also remember that achieving gender equity is a complex issue with complex solutions. We view the longer shortlist intervention as one way to make the informal recruitment process less prone to both systemic and implicit bias. However, the informal shortlist is just one step in the recruitment process, which also includes formal recruitment and interviews.”

The authors stress that Gender inequities are baked into the structure of the informal recruitment process.

”One problem with informal shortlists for male-dominated roles is that the prevalence of men in those jobs lead people to automatically think that men are more suitable for the roles than women. Consequently, when people think about candidates who would be a good fit for those jobs, male candidates are more likely to come to mind over equally qualified female candidates.”

”In other words, an informal shortlist may have more male candidates than equally qualified female candidates simply because men come to mind first. Taken together, informal shortlists pose a particularly daunting barrier to gender equity because they dually suffer from the systemic bias of informal, network-based recruitment and from the implicit bias of selecting top-of-mind candidates in gendered roles.”

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