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Pay gap between men and women is due to lack of female applications globally, suggests McGill's Desautels Faculty of Management


Women are underrepresented in high-paying jobs because they are not applying for them, rather than as a result of direct employer discrimination, research from Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, reveals.

The research claims segregation does not come entirely from employers discriminating at the point of hiring, and that women opt not to apply to these positions in the first place due to preconceived notions of job roles carried into the application process.

Roxana Barbulescu, professor of organizational behavious at the Desautels faculty of management at McGill University, said: "Women are taking themselves out of the running for certain jobs. When they evaluate different possible career tracks they already have the assumption that their applications may be unsuccessful. This is combined with a preference for jobs with better work-life balances and a lack of identity with more stereotypically masculine jobs, such as you may find in the finance industry. In a sense they pre-empt what they think the employers' decision will be, and opt-out first. "

Barbulescu's research, conducted in collaboration with Matthew Bidwell assistant professor at the Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania, offers what is understood to be the first direct evidence that similarly qualified men and women will sometimes apply to different kinds of jobs based on the effects of their view of traditional gender roles.

Barbulescu added: "Rather than concentrating on employer decisions, we wanted to understand the process through the applicants' side. We did not find evidence to suggest women are less likely to receive job offers in any of the sectors we looked at once they applied. The research suggests that employers' hiring decisions do not tell the whole story here. We need to understand the issues that make women believe they will not be successful in these fields."

The research was taken from a sample of MBA students and explores segregation into some of the best paid and most influential jobs in society where women are traditionally underrepresented.