Discrimination from below: Experimental evidence from Ethiopia

We find that women are less likely to have obtained an advanced degree, a credible signal of ability, but that its differential return is higher for women

Shibiru Ayalew; Shanthi Manian; Ketki Sheth

2021

Scholarcy highlights

  • We find that in the absence of information on ability, subjects with female leaders were 6 percentage points less likely to play in accordance with their leader’s directions
  • We find that the marginal effect of the ability signal for subjects with female leaders is large and significant
  • We further find that the marginal gain from the ability signal is much larger for female leaders relative to male leaders, who often have a negative estimate for the return to the ability signal
  • We find striking evidence for discrimination against female leaders: subjects are less likely to follow the same advice from a woman than an otherwise identical man
  • Conditional on the ability signal, subjects were 9 percent more likely to follow the recommendation provided by female leaders
  • Though we focus on the context of management in this paper, discrimination from below can generate gender disparities in any position in which successful performance requires individuals to follow one’s advice or direction
  • Performance metrics that are based on subordinate or client responsiveness may be problematic in reaching equity goals

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