Men in Pink-collar Jobs: Evidence from a Recruitment Experiment

Alexia Delfino (London School of Economics)

Abstract: Despite the decrease in occupational segregation by gender since the 1970s, men’s share in historically female jobs has been fairly constant between 1970 and 2009 in developed countries. In this paper, I ask to what extent firms’ personnel recruitment strategies can impact the historical inertia in the selection into female-dominated sectors and attract qualified men to these jobs. Do recruitment messages containing cues against or aligned with the job stereotype affect adult occupational search and entry into a female-dominated job? If so, through which channels and for which types of people? I provide both a theoretical framework and experimental evidence to answer these questions. Theoretically, I study the strategic interaction between an employer and potential employees and generate predictions on the potential quality/diversity trade-offs involved in attracting minority workers through targeted advertising (i.e. men). I bring the theory to the field and perform two distinct experiments in collaboration with a UK organization, which recruits workers in social care on a national scale. Both experiments introduce exogenous variation to the content of recruitment materials. The first experiment explores whether recruitment materials which portray counter-stereotypical workers encourage information gathering by people who represent a minority in the occupation. Results indicate that men show a significant positive reaction to contents portraying other men. The second experiment explores whether the effectiveness of cues against or aligned with the job stereotype depends on people’s performance expectations. People interested in applying were randomly assigned to different registration emails that manipulated 1) salience on gender of past workers and 2) expected performance. Results show that performance expectations and gender salience interact in similar ways for both men and women, triggering 4% to 6% more applications.