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Selection biases that emerge when age meets gender

Enrica N. Ruggs (Department of Psychology, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA)
Michelle R. Hebl (Department of Psychology, Rice University, Houston, Texas, USA)
Sarah Singletary Walker (Department of Management and Marketing, University of Houston-Downtown, Houston, Texas, USA)
Naomi Fa-Kaji (Department of Psychology, Rice University, Houston, Tetas, USA)

Journal of Managerial Psychology

ISSN: 0268-3946

Article publication date: 4 November 2014

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the interactive effects of gender and age on evaluations of job applicants. Given the double jeopardy hypothesis, the authors might anticipate that older women would be denigrated most in hiring evaluations. However, given expectations of normative gender behavior, the authors might anticipate that older men would be penalized most for not already having stable employment. This study aims to examine which hypothesis best describes selection biases based on age and gender.

Design/methodology/approach

Stimuli depicting male and female job applicants at the various ages were developed. The stimuli were standardized by collecting facial photos of older White men and women at ages 20, 40, and 60, and morphing these faces onto standardized bodies using Adobe Photoshop. Participants viewed six stimuli, one from each age by gender combination, and made evaluations across job relevant dimensions.

Findings

Results showed an interaction between age and gender, such that older male applicants were evaluated more negatively than older female and younger male applicants. These findings support for the violation of gender normative behavior hypothesis.

Practical implications

This study has implications for organizational leaders who can use this information to provide training for selection officers concerning biases against older workers and how to avoid them.

Originality/value

Original, novel stimuli are used in an experimental design to examine the effects of age in employment in a standardized manner which controls for extraneous variables such as attractiveness across age.

Keywords

Citation

N. Ruggs, E., R. Hebl, M., Singletary Walker, S. and Fa-Kaji, N. (2014), "Selection biases that emerge when age meets gender", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 29 No. 8, pp. 1028-1043. https://doi.org/10.1108/JMP-07-2012-0204

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited