Please join us for a colloquium being given by Lauren Rivera, Associate Professor of Management & Organizations at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
"Class Advantage, Commitment Penalty: The Interplay of Social Class and Gender in an Elite Labor Market"
Research on the mechanisms that produce social class advantages in the United States has focused primarily on formal schooling and paid less attention to labor market mechanisms, such as social class discrimination in employment. We conducted a résumé audit study to examine the effect of social class signals on entry into elite American law firms. We sent applications from fictitious students at selective but non-elite law schools to 316 large law firm offices in fourteen cities, randomly assigning indicators of social class background and gender to otherwise identical résumés. Results show that higher-class male applicants received significantly more callbacks than higher-class women, lower-class women, and lower-class men. A follow-up survey experiment exploring potential mechanisms suggests that, relative to lower-class applicants, higher-class candidates are seen as better fits with the elite culture and clientele of large law firms. But, while higher-class men receive a corresponding overall boost in evaluations, higher-class women do not because they face a competing, negative stereotype portraying them as less committed to full-time, intensive careers. This commitment penalty faced by higher-class women seems to offset class-based advantages these applicants may receive in evaluations. Our results highlight a powerful interplay between social class and gender in elite hiring.