Reducing gender bias in the evaluation and selection of future leaders: the role of decision makers’ mindsets about the universality of leadership potential

Rattan, A, Savani, K and Liu, Z (2023) Reducing gender bias in the evaluation and selection of future leaders: the role of decision makers’ mindsets about the universality of leadership potential. Journal of Applied Psychology, 108 (12). pp. 1924-1951. ISSN 0021-9010 OPEN ACCESS

Abstract

Extensive research has documented organizational decision makers’ preference for men over women when they evaluate and select candidates for leadership positions. We conceptualize a novel construct—mindsets about the universality of leadership potential—that can help reduce this bias. People can believe either that only some individuals have high leadership potential (i.e., a nonuniversal mindset) or that most individuals have high leadership potential (i.e., a universal mindset). Five studies investigated the relationship between these mindsets and decision makers’ gender biases in leader evaluation and selection decisions. The more senior government officials in China held a universal mindset, the less they showed gender bias when rating their subordinates’ leadership capability (Study 1). Working adults in the UK who held a more universal mindset exhibited less gender bias when evaluating and selecting job candidates for a leadership position (Study 2). In an experiment, Singaporean students exposed to a universal mindset exhibited less gender bias when evaluating and selecting candidates than those exposed to a nonuniversal mindset (Study 3). Another experiment with working adults in China replicated this pattern and added a control condition to confirm the directionality of the effect (Study 4). Finally, Study 5 showed that a more universal mindset was associated with less gender bias, particularly among decision makers with stronger gender stereotypes in the domain of leadership. This research demonstrates that, although they are seemingly unrelated to gender, mindsets about the universality of leadership potential can influence the extent to which people express gender bias in the leadership context.

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Item Type: Article
Subject Areas: Organisational Behaviour
Additional Information:

©American Psychological Association, 2023. This paper has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Applied Psychology. This is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. The final article will be available, upon publication, at: https://doi.org/10.1037/apl0001112

Date Deposited: 02 Aug 2023 16:28
Date of first compliant deposit: 06 Apr 2023
Subjects: Leadership
Last Modified: 22 Feb 2024 02:23
URI: https://lbsresearch.london.edu/id/eprint/2843
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