In human resource management, we are often concerned with group-based differences in the measurement of performance, satisfaction, and other variables (for legal and ethical reasons). Previous meta-analytic studies (studies that combine data from multiple studies) have examined the role of certain group characteristics, such as ethnicity, on performance. However, gender differences have not been studied as frequently. In addition, as the authors (Roth, Purvis, & Bobko, 2012) note, previous meta-analyses that have assessed gender differences in performance have generally utilized various proxies for performance (e.g., absenteeism, satisfaction) rather than actual performance measures (e.g., supervisor ratings). The goal of the current meta-analysis, was to examine gender differences on these realistic performance indices in field samples.
RESULTS OF THE STUDY ON GENDER AND PERFORMANCE
Analyzing a total of 61 employee samples (rather than student samples), the authors concluded that, on average, there appears to be a great deal of similarity between levels of performance for males and females. Despite this conclusion, the authors also found support for their hypothesis that males generally receive slightly higher promotability ratings. The authors’ conclusions about gender differences in performance and promotability point out a potential management paradox in the following sense: studies seem to suggest that females are slightly better performers, yet females appear to be rated slightly lower on promotability compared to males.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The researchers suggest a number of future research directions to assist in increasing our understanding of this phenomenon, including studies of other types of job performance (such as work samples) and additional research on the influence of gender on promotability ratings in general (this study only identified eight studies to include in the current meta-analysis). Researchers should continue conducting this type of research in field settings, as did the studies included in this meta-analysis. This area remains a prime opportunity for academic-practitioner collaboration.
Organizations and leaders should also be aware of the potential for discrimination in this domain, and should ensure they only use unbiased, job-related assessments when conducting performance appraisals and making personnel decisions. This will remove the influence of harmful stereotypes and promote a fair and effective workplace.
Roth, P. L., Purvis, K. L., & Bobko, P. (2012). A meta-analysis of gender group differences for measures of job performance in field studies. Journal of Management, 38(2), 719-739.