Mixed Messages: Gender Differences in Performance and Promotability Ratings (IO Psychology)

Topic(s): gender

Topic: Gender, Performance Appraisal
Publication: Journal of Management (MAR 2012)
Article: A Meta-Analysis of Gender Group Differences for Measures of Job Performance in Field Studies
Authors: Roth, P. L., Purvis, K. L., & Bobko, P.
Reviewed By: Thaddeus Rada

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 look at data/findings across multiple studies) have examined the role of certain group characteristics, such as ethnicity, on performance, but gender differences have not been studied as frequently. In addition, as the authors of the current article 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, then, of this meta-analysis, was to examine gender differences on these realistic performance indices in field samples.

Meta-analyzing a total of 61 employee samples (rather than college student samples), the authors concluded that, on the 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: although small, performance differences seem to suggest that females are better performers, yet they appear to be rated slightly lower on promotability compared to males.

Roth et al. 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 (Roth and colleagues only identified eight such studies to include in the current meta-analysis). It will be useful to continue conducting such research in field settings, as the studies included in this meta-analysis did; as such, this may be a prime opportunity for academic-practitioner collaboration in IO psychology.

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, 719-739.

human resource management, organizational industrial psychology, organizational management



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