Theses Doctoral

Does Gender Matter in the Evaluation of Successful Physicians? Examining How Evaluators Use Stereotype-Based Attributions in Determining Outcomes at Work

Ferraris-Baron, Dyan Angela Ludeña

The purpose of this study was to understand whether physician leaders are subject to gender bias in the form of differential work outcomes. Specifically, the primary goal was to examine whether the gender of a successful physician leader, the medical specialty in which he or she works (surgery or pediatrics), and participant level of social dominance orientation (SDO; level of egalitarianism) influenced the allocation of workplace outcomes (i.e., evaluations of performance, promotion recommendations, and characterizations of ability and effort). This study further explored if ability and effort characterizations mediated the relationship between gender, specialty, and participant SDO on evaluations of performance and promotion recommendations. Attempting to elucidate the atypical but increasing phenomenon in which successful female leaders in male-typed jobs receive higher performance evaluations, but lower rates of promotion as compared to equivalent males; this study drew on attribution theory to explain that characterizations of successful women as “hard workers” (effort) may be seen as deserving of high evaluations of performance but not promotions, while being “brilliant” (ability) may be seen as deserving of promotions and reserved for successful men. Results revealed an unexpected overall boost for female surgeons, awarded especially by participants low in SDO (those most egalitarian) such that female surgeons received significantly better outcomes as compared to female pediatricians and equivalent outcomes as compared to male physicians. Male surgeons and pediatricians were largely awarded equivalent outcomes across all levels of participant SDO. Further, mediation was supported only for female surgeons, such that higher characterizations of effort explained higher evaluations of performance, particularly by those low in SDO. Further research is required to understand why successful women receive higher evaluations of performance, but not promotions.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Social-Organizational Psychology
Thesis Advisors
Block, Caryn J
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 22, 2017