« Freakonomics Radio

254. What Are Gender Barriers Made Of?

2016-07-21 | 🔗
Overt discrimination in the labor markets may be on the wane, but women are still subtly penalized by all sorts of societal conventions. How can those penalties be removed without burning down the house?
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If you'd like to listen to free economic radio without ads the place to do that is sticker premium five dollars a month and you can get free month, trial by going to stick your premium dot com and use a promo code freak. You also get access to all our bonus. Episodes and you'll be supporting our show to that sticker premium. Dot, com, promo code, freak thanks, ok, hello, profess! rubber, hello paste. Even now harry you fine. How are you My wrist robber was born in Brooklyn, making forty one. She was a good student. She went to College Cornell, at the time only one in four undergraduates corner where women Strawberry was planning to become a schoolteacher, but then she was offered a graduate school fellowship. Her two areas of interest were economics and
history. I thought his story and had to know everything about everyone anytime, and so I thought he can Amex will be a little easier. She studied economics at Tufts and then at MIT in the Economics PH dot D program mighty. Women were even scarcer than they ve been in undergrad. I was completely shocked. At how male my Graham, was so mail that, when she walked into the first, of her labour econ class. They professor said I think, you're in there wrong room young woman and I looked him where in the eye and said I don't think so. I myerst rubber
Strawberry, got her Phd in Economics from MIT and later became an assistant professor at the University of Maryland. She got married and her husband was offered a ten your track job as professor medicine at Stanford in Palo Alto, California, so they moved to California. By now they had two young children Strawberry, gotta teaching, job at Berkeley about forty miles north of Palo Alto, but she was hired as a lecture, not an assistant professor, which is what she'd been Maryland. The very first day I was at Berkeley. I saw that two of my classmates from MIT were assisting professors at Berkeley. That is to male classmates from MIT, and so I made an appointment with the chair of the Economics Department, George break too find out why I was a lecturer and they were assistant professors. He told May that the reason was that I lived in Palo Alto me,
in forty miles away- and I was astonished- but I believed him- That was the reason, so she left his office and got into my car to drive back to Palo Alto from Berkeley. The route took her over Ebay Bridge and on that bridge. I realized that his answer was absolutely ridiculous and that, in fact, was only one other woman in Economics Department at Berkeley, she'd been there for twenty. Airs and she was still lecture, and I always became a feminist on the Bay Bridge, it took a while, but stroller got a second meeting with her department chair first, he asked me if I would like him to be frank- and I said yes
wood- and so he told me that I had to young children- and they couldn't give me an assistant professor position- because they didn't know quote- what was going to happen to me, I don't know what he thought would happen to me, but I said well, why don't you put me on the tenure track and in six years will all see what happens to me and he said I could never sell that the department stronger wound up. Leaving Berkeley uniting Set the two she became the first female faculty member at Stanford Graduate School of business and then the advice three board told the dean that thing: it had to hire women and they couldn't find any, because none had been trained and they urged business School to start
meeting more women. There are only five female students in the business school out of a few hundred, so that this school recruited women for one year- and I helped with that- and that was the end of the room because as soon as women knew that the business school this is this was not just Stanford. This was nationwide this. They knew that business schools wanted to unroll women. They applied in droves. Think about that as soon as women knew the business schools wanted to unroll, women they applied in droves. Is it really that easy? What if many of gender barriers were staring down lately are as flimsy is that today on for economics, radio, how to tweak enough and occasionally subvert society to do away with some of our oldest stateless traditions. Neat go into our organizations and
redesign how be higher help promote tubby value people by removing the penalties for wrong answers. These gender differences went away, I think, Very small changes could be made that would have huge effects I'm happy from w and why see studios this is free, can mix radio. The pod cast at explores the hidden side of everything. Here's your house, Stephen Dogma. We ve been talking with the economist my restructure. I am Professor America at Stanford University, I am still teaching
Course there on work and family, the relationship between women and work has come a constantly for stronger and both her academic and personal life. This led her to ask a simple question: how is it and why said that men are the majority in certain give patients the more look: could have ones and women are the majority in others. Why is it that there is so much occupational segregation from occupational segregation, is a major driver of the gender pay gap. You ve probably heard the famous statistic: that women earn roughly seventy seven cents for every dollar that men earned for doing the same work. It's also a famously flawed statistic, as we discussed in an earlier episode that was
all the true story of the gender pay gap and features research done by the Harvard economists. Claudia Golden is true that if you took individuals in the labour force and took those working in full time full year and took off men tat the median annual earnings of those women and took the same thing for men and divided the too. It would be point seven, seven or around that. Ok, so That means that women are receiving lower pay for equal work. That is possibly the case in certain places, but by and large not that it's something else. One component of that something else is occupational sorting or is my restructure, calls it occupational segregation. It was her own experience
as the rare female economist they got her thinking about this and I came across this notion that men had monopolized the lucrative professions. So her big research question, the big question for my research was exactly that. How is it, and why is it that much and are the majority in sir. Occupations, the more lucrative and women are the majority in others- why is it that there is so much occupational segregation and, after studying occupations that change their gender designation like bank teller? an elementary school teaching. I realise that although people talk about occupations becoming feminine Ized, that is, women
taking them over really what's going on, is men are leaving occupations which are no longer relatively attractive in terms salary working missions and promotion opportunities. Why did men historically at least get first dibs on the best paying jobs? I think the answer is that society, and I think this is still true- thinks that men are the supporters of their families, and so it makes sense. to give them the best jobs because they need to earn what used to be called a family wage. They need. To earn enough to support a family, whereas a woman either needs to earn nothing because man is supporting her or she needs to simply support herself here, you when you say that- and it sounds perfectly sensible, but I'm curious. If it's
really true, I mean, on the one hand, I think if I own a steel mill, and I want to produce a certain amount of product, and I want to do it is affordably as I can, and I say: will women earn less than men? I should hire them and if some people don't like it because it you know it goes against our traditional now in all or tribal or but just norms. Here you know what so, what you're saying that nobody ever did that those norm we're so strong that they were never violated as fast as I know nobody was trying to put women into a steel workers jobs in to coal mining jobs in two kinds: corruption, jobs, no that were, and it's not just from the employee our side, women would have thought it unseemly for them to do that kind of work, and so once a job is, as ignited as male or female, it's very hard to change that designation. Do you think
there was, will fall either discrimination or exclusion in order to protect Wade is in privilege, and so on that males had or was it more lake. It took way too long for the fermentation of the workforce to happen, but not necessarily because of ill will. I think it was a combination of both. I think that, for example, who, in medicine medical school had quota and simply did not admit more than few women in any year. I think that when an player or an industry group is thinking about hiring women into jobs that have been previously all male they have to be a little innovative. I think you could get more young women interested in engineering, if you discuss the way is in which engineers help people in
society women like to help people in society. engineers by and large do that, but that's the way that engineering is sold- and so I think very small changes could be made that would have huge. facts? Small changes having huge effects, that is a favorite theme of ours round here it describes a lot of what behavioral economics tries to do again. I thank you for having me I'm irresponsive thanks for joining us, I'm faster of public policy at the Harbor Kennedy School and am economies by training anything else, and I also erect the women in public policy programme. Anything else. I co chair to be able in scope and that's a group that focuses better understanding, be able in cites the mechanisms that help us make better decisions.
in organizations and in society. More broadly anything else, I'm the author of what works gender equality by design Brings these insights to bear on the question of gender equality, the focus of the book, the book is one of the organizations can do, including school spectrum companies agencies. Governments can do to close gender gaps using be able Insights Burnett like many smart people, believes that you can't solve a problem until you understand its root causes. So when you consider gender gaps in the labour market, whether its wages or occupational segregation orb opportunity? What are some? The factors that drive these gaps? Let's start with something it's hard to quantify our perception of competence and how that perception may differ.
from women. Men. So tell me about Heidi reason: in her fictional twin brother, how How do I send is a venture capitalist in Silicon Valley and another and a very successful business woman a few years ago, Kathleen again and a team of collaborators about a case about Hyades the kind of case that People who are in a graduate school would be confronted with Wendy Study Business, for example, are public policy and a case talks about Heidi, and you know what she did who create her network in Silicon Valley and how she built her enterprises. And then, if you you later. A few colleagues of ours, in fact, to man, that Colombia, business school, replace tightened with Howard they gave have after students the case of two protagonists being poultry and the other half with their protagonists being called Howard
and I'm assuming their randomized and I'm assuming that the other half doesn't know what the other half is getting correct. That's exactly right, but we typically find is tat ask our students to evaluate Indian Howard, after they have been the case, People and, I specifically say peoples not just man, but men and women will say, Heidi and how it both did. A good job were competent to perform well, but they don't like Haiti, and they don't like Heidi, because Heidi defies stereotypes that about what a typical venture capitalist looks like, but also what a typical woman does, but they only don't like it when they know or think that she is a woman if they know or think that she's a man, then she's considered what kind of maverick who good fur him slasher? He she got where he she wanted to know,
by breaking the rules that the idea they didn't quite break the rules. But by being assertive say yes, so competence and assertiveness and success and leadership, go together for men, but they don't got together for women right Why do you suspect this is the case, especially because its case not only for male students assessing him slash her, but female students as well see is believing and its tons of evidence suggesting that what we see a who we see, more importantly, is more important then, who we are ourselves ok that makes sense, men may see men and women differently. Women may, the women and men differently, but I would do women and men see themselves and how does that feed? The gender gap in ink economists have started to recognise
There are dimensions in which men and women on average behave differently, and sometimes that can interact with the way we have designed a system to produce sort of inefficient results. That's Catherine, Kaufman she's at Harvard Business School, so I was studying, psychology and economics in thinking about ways in which individual decisions might be biased. One of these ways, through anchoring so I give you a random number and you have to decide how tall is Mount Everest? Is it tolerance better than that number. So Kaufman designed a survey and ass this very question to men and women. I saw really consists Lee that men were willing to guess. Even They are really unsure about the answer and give me a very precise estimate for the height of the mountain, where women, we're very likely on these surveys to write that they didn't know where they weren't sure they really wish. They could help me with their research. just didn't know the answer to the question, and so I started to think about how this sort of
unwillingness to volunteer ideas are unsure about, might manifests itself in its really important context. Important contexts like taking BS eighty one of the ban Mark tests for American College Admission, where you get one point for a correct answer: a quarter point penalty for a wrong answer in zero points for skipping the question. So if you had a relatively high probability of answering likely and actually I just a positive probability of choosing something better than choosing at random. You would be leaving points on the table by skipping the question at least an expectation. Historically, there's been a big gap between male and female performance on the math portion of Yosemite. in two thousand fifteen, the average male score was five hundred and twenty seven out of a hundred possible points. The average female score. Just four hundred ninety six coffin decide to run an experiment to see if any of that gap can be explained by the gender gap in will
yes to guess at answers. So what I do is I bring participates in the lab and they do a test that looks like the USA tea. They take the first part where they have the option to skip questions. What that similar structure of deducting penalties for wrong answers, but then I come back in that same session ten minutes later and I show them those same questions and I forced them to provide an answer to every question, and by doing so I can see sort of how they would have done on the test. Had every one chosen to answer questions rather than skip so what did Kaufman?
whenever penalties for wrong answers, women skipped on average about twice as many questions as the men, but then Kaufman, Remy Experiment again with a different set of participants, and in this adoration there was no penalty for wrong answer. By removing the penalties for wrong answers. We saw that everyone now decided to answer every question and so the gender gap in skipping questions and also these gender differences and score that were related to that went away. In other words, when she redesign the test to not penalized female tests takers for what seems too, be a predominantly female behaviour they did about as well as the males yet so that, as eighty announced, that they were gonna, remove penalties for wrong answers and I
work with them on that change, others that change that I was happy to hear about the college Board. That's the non profit that designs, the essay tee and other tests. They said the bigger reason they changed, as a t scoring was to take some of the games and ship out of it. Whatever the case, it is the key end of change that respond net and my restorer and others are talking about identifying potential, gender, biases or barriers that may be subtle, but may also be so obstinate because their son coming up and economics radio. What other clues have we been missing? It's a very strong, a fact and girls. Are doing this more strongly than the boys and we talk solutions. I can't tell my female students: let's go
four hundred years until the fixed a system, this is for economic growth, I'm Stephen W, I'm also mail, which means it when I say something, regardless of what I say how I say it, it will be received differently than if My knowledge exists, email, twin nail, Stephanie doesn't even debonnair word today. Say, the very same thing Ok, I'm Megan Sumner and she is. I am an associate professor of Linguistic Stanford University, which means what exactly I'm a fanatic my research focuses on how we understand spoken, language so what's uttered and who has
can something and how we integrate that information. Different people, as we all know, often speak with different accents. When we're listening to speakers but different accents, we listen differently and when I said we listen differently. I dont mean it's a conscious choice and I choose not listen to one talker another. I mean automatic processes that were using to understand spoken languages. There are social biases present already. So as soon as I hear a speaker, how I view that speaker influences everything that happens next in one x Herman Sumner, head average american listeners, listen to two speakers speaking the same work. one with the New York City, Axon Angel Asthma, bagel, the other with a southern standard, british english voice, asthma, bagel between cabinet the difference in listeners perceptions was astonishing. They did much better job, remembering exactly what the english speakers said and they judged the english speaker to be smarter than the New York City speaker. This led me
to thinking about variation in her domains specifically gender, for instance. How do we perceive same words spoken by a woman, verses man, Sumner and her colleagues at King record man's voice Anna woman's voice? Saying the same word, for instance, Academy Academy: she then asked listeners of both genders to a media We say the next word the came to mind when participants would hear a word spoken by a man like academy. The first word that pops into their mind in this house true for female and male listeners would be school, but when they hear The same words spoken by a woman academy. The first word that pops into their mind would be award. So when a man says the Word academy, the top associate school, but when a female says the Word academy, the top associate is award. The idea Sumner argues is that of unconscious stereotypes.
Influences how we listen, and both male and female listeners are apparently more likely to anticipate a woman. Took him out. Hollywood then say a school, Now, if you broaden that out, it means that we are processing language differently. Basin whether a woman or man is doing the speaking, and it's not just adults, Sumner and her colleagues have found that gendered. Listening as she calls it starts by the age of four and this fact it's a very strong, a fact and was in saying is that the girls that our listeners are doing this more strongly than the boys and that task that's interesting as well. So how does this play out? Adults in say a work environment or education or politics? It's not hard imagine to political candidates. One may
it's really nice. Thank you. When female will thank you and face to everyone being perceived very differently, even if they were saying exactly the same words as through the magic of audio editing we ve arranged for them to do the challenges we face in protecting our country. We there is a legal advice: Megan Sumner and her colleagues did another experiment looking at our absolute and then our relative rankings of male and female speakers. So a man's voice, that's raided as not so reliable on its on Israel It is more reliable in the context of a woman's voice, gets a kind of boost and a woman's boy that's right! It is reasonably reliable alone, it's down it is less reliable in the context of a man's boys, and you can imagine how that would penalized women in just about any setting. I think this has huge implicate it's just for how we interact and the types of information that were used
to make decisions on an everyday basis, considered job interview, you're the person doing the hiring here's, what summers research sector. What's an interview, a man for the job, and you think he's only so so you interview a woman for the job. Suddenly the man seems in retrospect a better candidate. Then he seemed or you interviewed the woman and that says the economist eras bone net is why, including yours are probably the most over valid instrument at our disposal, its other of those societal constructs that may be putting women at a disadvantage. It turns out quite late many hundreds of studies have shown that into used to it, very bad job, projecting future performance? So it's not that nothing. You what happens in an interview, but it's almost before our minds to sift through war. what we have just learned and cheese apart the valuable information from the less valuable information. So what's a solution,
Do we change the way women speak? That's not what in Sumner wants, even though her own research points out the problem, it's kind of may mean grumpy, quite honestly, the our voice in the way we talk is something about ourselves and We are conveying who we are along with what we say, and so I kind of had this feeling of gosh. Now, maybe you ve organ try to change how they talk, and that would be sad. I think we have to change how we listen. You're spoke agrees. She so things that leaning in the idea that women just need to ask for more in the workplace, isn't such a great solution. It goes back to the Heidi Howard expert which found that men and women found an assertive female entrepreneurs less likeable than a fictional male version of the same person is very important that we talk about the evidence tat. It is hard for women too lenient and for men because they violate gender norms. Women,
our penalized for being assertive, because assertiveness is not traditionally associated with women. While it is with me and in man we applauded and think that makes for good leader, and in women. We think it is trying to find a better word into be words, not gonna, say to people Arafat who, as we know the word, you think you know what I mean yes, so we will be done. warm thoughts about assertive women, but we might call the aggressiveness. Let's called aggressiveness instead of asserted. And women need to know that that is a risk that is real so other than wait around for the two or two hundred, or maybe two million years for assertiveness list to be associated with women, because it from what you're saying that there is no guarantee that that construct will change ITALY any time soon, rather than wait around for that and acknowledging that people have biases that are hard to erase. What do you do?
What are the answers? What are the solutions sitting need to go into our organizations and design how be higher help promote tubby about people. Think I'm a number of things we can do most immediately. We can move from an unstructured interview protocol to structured into the protocol, and that means we think about the questions beforehand. We write down two questions beforehand, ideally in the best of all worlds, we then measure which questions do the job predicting future performance, but at the very end, east- we think hard about which questions we think would do a good job. And then we ask these five questions in the same order and we ask the same questions: whenever we interact with a candidate. So all my ten finalist sample, will be asked the same five questions in the same order and then ideal.
this is largely what I do now. I blind myself toward them graphic characters. Six of these people and just sign numbers in fact, have an assistant sign numbers. Two Gees did answer to the questions, and then I compare two questions across not vertically but horizontally side. Look at the answer to question one for all of my ten candidates: denial of oppression tool for all of my ten candidates, and I read them and then at the end, the aggregate them then I'll give them back to my assistant, and she tells me you know who was Johnny Susie or Jamal or may who I raided. Another solution. Burnett suggests that firms do way with employees self evaluations. Now if people differ in degree of their self confidence that will lead to different self appraisals, hand different self appraisals, support an influence. How my manager is going to praise me and my colleague, and so I dont have any evidence
suggesting that sharing self appraisals beforehand does any good, but we have found evidence that these numbers- in fact do, buys the managers and managed will it just a little bit but will adjusting incompletely and there will remain. gap between men and women, but not just between men and women, have also found that there are certain cultures which are more comfortable with. Let's call this bragging I'm out of cultures which are less comfortable. If doing so. So I think that's a practice savages do away with tomorrow. Another suggestion addresses the idea that women are sometimes not seen as well hunting success as much as men. Many more organizations evaluate people who are up for promotion based on past performance and future potential and biased answer. Key came in terms of potential for two reasons: a it's much harder to measure that hormones and be. Of course, potential goes back to the hiding
our problem where we cannot imagine that women would like to want to climb up the career ladder and therefore we think she has less potential the try to break down potential into its up components and be very honest if yourself on what you actually trying to measure if A lot of these changes seem no offense, really easy. I mean pretty simple to build if They are so easy. Why do you think that many of them haven't been used more? So? First of all, I don't take offence if at all, in fact one of the arguments of the book, is that these are low hanging. Fruit, often relatively cheap, and we should do them tomorrow. So a number in a huge number of potential culprits. Now I dont think I have evidence to tell us you know which one it is This is interesting thing going on that we can to rely on evidence and data in our finance apart.
Even in our marketing departments, where we often even run experiments and real scientific men. to understand. You know what a diet, Coke or Pepsi MAX works for men and women respectively, for example, and we haven't you so say, methods in our hr departments. I dont know exactly where it comes from. Why I we haven't used to some kind of rigour and scrutiny when we think about people in many ways, should be even more careful when we make people decisions compared to product decisions, but it seems too, this last bastion in many ways in each are that honestly, I think he's gonna change dramatically with the new big data and new technologies machine learning that we have available now in the next ten years. I just haven't used the same tools that we have used in other parts of our organizations. So far that may be true, we may be
an era in which more firms use more data to understand how to get the most out of their employees and to make their employees happier and more productive, but is also this human nature of being what it is. A bundle of cognitive biases and adherence to social norms. We can't solve every problem according to logic, Sometimes you need to design a solution that factors in all these biases and norms. We have to take human psychology seriously me people, but to act and not ask for the impossible, sometimes, rather than relying on people to constantly make good decisions after design the system, so that success is not dependent on every decision being a good We need to find a way to good and important work without being crippled by everything that could go wrong. Myra Roper, pioneering economists we heard from earlier
has written a book called sharing the work? What my family and career taught me about breaking through in holding the door open for others, part memoir part analysis of how the workplace has always been probably always will be a different kind of challenge for men and women. Consider the seemingly simple notion of workplace feedback. We all know really hard to get better at anything without feedback, but strawberry argues, there's an almost universal fear, of feedback? Well, not only do people fear asking for feedback, but employers fear giving it. I think employers fear giving men feedback, because they're afraid and- and I get this from the can I think that I've done. They fear that the men we'll be angry when the worst case, they'll stomp, they'll scream the Elk, throw a racers ironed out. What they'll do but they'll be very angry women.
on the other hand, they fear, will cry but very few women to cry and they do so they do and someone fear getting feedback because they will cry, and until I tell them well practice not crying, and you must have feedback in order to improve it. Work. If you don't know what you're doing wrong or what you could be doing better you're, never going on prove you're, never gonna get the promotion you want. You got back show or any other episode of Economics, radio, let us Europe for on Twitter and Facebook wet for economics, dot com. You can write to us at radio at for economics outcome coming up next. on four economics. Radioed. Do you love our electoral system? Now I didn't think so.
So if there were one election idea that you could personally kill off for me, the idea that we are abolished. The idea that I would like to die on more and buried as quickly as possible, no funeral. We need to change the way we currently vote. We hear from power tensions and scholars, donkeys and elephants, and everyone in between on this idea must die election addition, that's next time and economics radio. Fr Economics, radio is produced by W and my c studios and W productions. This episode was produced by Kim Gibson or staff also includes fervour. Gunjay merit Jacob Christopher Worth Jake how it Greg
Dusky, Caitlin, Pierce, Allison, Hockenberry Emma Morgenstern in Japan to Green book Harry Huggins is our in turn. You can subscribe to this progress on Itunes or where we get your podcast and come visit for economics. Dot com we'll find our entire podcast archive, as well as a complete transcript of every episode ever made long with music credits and lots more thanks. You listening he there Stephen doubly again one more thing. If you like the episode, you just heard we thank you like something else in the friggin hammocks radio network. Look for this interview on the new podcast people. I mostly admire with host Steve Level, but my guest today Sue bird. She collects championships she's for double and be eighty of Egypt's five Euro, the best about championships.
to end C h, championships for international basketball, federation, world cups and four olympic Gold medal. I would, I think that in order to be the player you are, you would have to be a person who acted gets better under pressure rather than worth, while. Obviously there are people who are known for hitting big shots, are known for playing well in big games that exists for sure, but I think we kind of frame it there Why? It's not that you're gonna make nine out of ten. It's that you might make three at ten Somebody else is making zero it's at, whose most, successful? It's like who's, the most successful The least successful that is people mostly admire you can find it on your favorite podcast app subscribe now, so that you don't miss single episode
hey there Stephen dubbing again, one more thing if you like for economics, radio, I think you'll also like the latest episode of people, I mostly admire the podcast hosted by my free economic, spreading co, author Steve Level, Here's what it sounds like a guest today, Sue bird she collects championships she's for W Nba championships, five euro, the best about championships too, and see a championships for International Basketball Federation, world cups and four olympic gold medals. I'd love to talk about the economic, the professional basketball, so the average player in the NBA made eight point three million dollars into the nineteen and in the W Nba the average with eighty thousand is frustrating just now. I think. Actually, if you look at,
twenty twenty. Our minimum is now higher, but we all but in the same amount of work. So is it a heart swallow knowing that somebody else's work is being rewarded at times by I live in reality. I understand business and economics. Some people look at us as like charity. The goal will help them out like an it in a terrible. What sense? Not unlike this business, investment way. Everything do look at us as an investment immediately its talked about how we don't make money, and it's like fifty years. About, the NBA did either, but people are willing to make that investment get behind it and growing its people. I most we admire? You can find it on your favorite podcast. App
Transcript generated on 2021-01-25.