Promoting gender equality at different stages of the employee life cycle: new and cumulated findings

Salwender, Mona

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URN: urn:nbn:de:bsz:180-madoc-653279
Document Type: Doctoral dissertation
Year of publication: 2023
Place of publication: Mannheim
University: Universität Mannheim
Evaluator: Mata, Jutta
Publication language: English
Institution: School of Social Sciences > Sozialpsychologie (Stahlberg 1996-2022)
Subject: 150 Psychology
Keywords (English): gender , employee life cycle , dissertation
Abstract: There are three main reasons for organizations to promote diversity (Charta der Vielfalt, 2022) and many organizations already actively do so (Dobbin et al., 2011). One good reason for promoting diversity is simply that it is a matter of fairness. Another good reason for promoting diversity is that a diverse workforce can generate competitive and financial advantages (Gil-bert et al., 1999; Herring, 2009). A third and related reason is that promoting diversity can be an answer to pressuring needs of organizations such as the demographic change and shortage of qualified staff (Charta der Vielfalt, 2022). Such pressuring needs require organizations to be attractive for a diverse workforce at all stages of the employee life cycle. This dissertation offers novel and cumulated findings relevant for organizational diversity management. The focus of this dissertation lies on gender as one of the core dimensions of diversity. Each of the three manuscripts included in this dissertation addresses a hot topic around the promotion of gender equality in organizations at different stages of the employee life cycle. Manuscript 1 is concerned with the hiring stage of the employee life cycle, specifically with the question whether women only apply for a job when they are 100% qualified, whereas men already apply when they are qualified to a lower extent. This is a wide-spread claim (Mohr, 2014). However, empirical evidence has been lacking so far. By testing this claim, Manuscript 1 responds to the hotly debated lack of empirical investigations in the diversity management practice. The manuscript presents novel data in seven studies testing whether women and men differ in their application intention depending on qualification fit. The results of the first six studies showed no gender differences in application intention at different levels of qualification fit. At the same time, women robustly indicated that they want to be more prepared for a job compared to men. This speaks for higher psychological hurdles present in women than men, which do not seem to translate into differential application intentions. In Study 7 a competitive test of 29 potential mediators showed that women wanted to be more prepared for a job due to their higher fear of not being able to meet others’ expectations. Manuscript 2 focuses on the development stage of the employee life cycle. Specifical-ly, company cultures and their role in motivating or hindering women and men to strive for leadership were investigated. By focusing on company cultures, this research followed an emerging call to stop fixing women in the attempt to reduce the gender leadership gap (e.g., by offering trainings for female leaders) and rather address systems (England et al., 2020; Fox, 2017). Novel data in three studies showed that cultures focusing on showing competen-cies foster less self-concept conflict, less fear of backlash, less concerns about one’s skills, and a higher intention to seek power positions compared to cultures focusing on playing politics. This pattern was more pronounced for women than men. Finally, Manuscript 3 focuses on language and therefore has implications for corporate communication across all stages of the employee life cycle. Following an ongoing, partly heat-ed debate in society, media, politics, as well as organizations (e.g., Kurfer, 2022), this manu-script scrutinizes the mental representation of gender in masculine generics. In a meta-analysis, evidence is accumulated showing that women’s mental representation is higher when gender-inclusive language (e.g., chairperson) is used compared to masculine generics (e.g., chairman). This applies, for example, to the language used in job advertisements in the hiring stage but also in a leadership context and therefore has direct implications for researching and promot-ing gender equality in organizations. The present dissertation is organized as follows: The next chapter outlines theoretical and empirical background on the promotion of gender equality at different stages of the em-ployee life cycle. Afterwards, three current hot topics in the field of diversity management are highlighted. The three manuscripts that form this dissertation are shortly summarized with reference to the respective corresponding hot topic. Details on theory, methods, results, and discussions pertaining to the specific manuscripts can be found in each manuscript in the ap-pendix. Finally, a general discussion follows highlighting theoretical and practical implications of this dissertation as well as limitations and open questions.

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