A Longer Shortlist Increases The Consideration of Female Candidates in Male-Dominant Domains

A Longer Shortlist Increases The Consideration of Female Candidates in Male-Dominant Domains

Brian J. Lucas, Zachariah Berry, Laura M. Giurge & Dolly Chugh

Nature Human Behaviour 

Abstract

Making it onto the shortlist is often a crucial early step toward professional advancement. For under-represented candidates, one barrier to making the shortlist is the prevalence of informal recruitment practices (for example, colleague recommendations). The current research investigates informal shortlists generated in male-dominant domains (for example, technology executives) and tests a theory-driven intervention to increase the consideration of female candidates. Across ten studies (N = 5,741) we asked individuals to generate an informal shortlist of candidates for a male-dominant role and then asked them to extend the list. We consistently found more female candidates in the extended (versus initial) list. This longer shortlist effect occurs because continued response generation promotes divergence from the category prototype (for example, male technology executives). Studies 3 and 4 supported this mechanism, and study 5 tested the effect of shortlist length on selection decisions. This longer shortlist intervention is a low-cost and simple way to support gender equity efforts.

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