Are Female Managers Agents of Change or Cogs in the Machine? An Assessment with Three-Level Manager-Employee Linked Data

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Abstract

In this study, we investigate whether female managers contribute to greater gender equality in organizations. Specifically, we examine whether women's and men's earnings are affected by the share of female managers in their organization, and by being supervised by a female manager. We formulate opposing hypotheses arguing that women are either change agents who reduce gender inequality in earnings in their organization, or cogs in the machine who do not influence or even enlarge gender inequality in earnings. We employ unique manager-employee linked data from nine countries to test these hypotheses. Results are in line with the weak version of the women as cogs in the machine hypothesis: women's and men's earnings are not affected by the share of female managers in their organization, nor by being supervised by a female manager. Gender equality in earnings is thus not stimulated by female managerial representation. Between-country variations in results are discussed.

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Van Hek, M., & Van Der Lippe, T. (2019). Are Female Managers Agents of Change or Cogs in the Machine? An Assessment with Three-Level Manager-Employee Linked Data. European Sociological Review, 35(3), 316–331. https://doi.org/10.1093/esr/jcz008

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