Female Hiring Managers in STEM Discriminate Against Women, Too


Why there’s gender bias for careers in science, technology, engineering and math.



You might think in the 21st century that discrimination wouldn’t be problematic for job applicants in STEM — the acronym for science, technology, engineering and math. Sadly, that’s not the case.

Of course, it’s been widely documented that women suffer from gender bias in technology. As in tech hiring, data shows there are two reasons why STEM is a male bastion.

Not only do STEM male hiring managers give  preference to men, so do their female counterparts — even at the detriment of company profits — according to an academic study.

MH900422730 young business womanThe study, How Stereotypes Impair Women’s Careers in Science, was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The disturbing revelation of gender bias was revealed in the study led by Ernesto Reuben, assistant professor of management at Columbia Business School.

The study was co-authored by Paola Sapienza from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern and Luigi Zingales from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Why more men?

“Studies that seek to answer why there are more men than women in STEM fields typically focus on women’s interests and choices,” said Professor Reuben.

“This may be important, but our experiments show that another culprit of this phenomenon is that hiring managers possess an extraordinary level of gender bias when making decisions and filling positions, often times choosing the less qualified male over a superiorly qualified female,” he added.

A Columbia Business School press release said that in “an experiment in which participants were hired to perform a mathematical task, both male and female managers were twice as likely to hire a man than a woman — even when the managers had no information beyond a candidate’s appearance and, therefore, gender.”

Seriously?

“The end result is not only a less diverse workforce and a male-dominated STEM field, but also a detriment to these companies for hiring the less-skilled person for the job,” commented Dr. Reuben.

Study’s conclusions

The press release said: “…when the hiring manager had no other information other than a candidate’s gender, they were twice as likely to hire a man than a woman, because they incorrectly believed that men are more talented in science and math…”

Wait, there’s more.

“In some situations up to 90 percent of the time when a mistake was made, it was made in favor of a man,” said Dr. Reuben.

Even worse, the release disclosed: “When hiring managers were given information about the candidates’ actual performance, the bias against women was reduced, but not eliminated, the researchers found.”

From the Coach’s Corner, editor’s picks:

Seattle Tech Recruiter Provides Career Advice, Makes Prediction — As technology companies watch the debate in Congress on visas, one fact remains: They need skilled workers. Amid the debate, a top Seattle tech recruiter answers questions – from career advice to a prediction on future trends.

Why Microsoft Continues Push for ‘Stem’ Studies in College — Among other reasons: The home state of Microsoft, Washington, ranks fourth in technology-based corporations, but is 46th in tech graduates   Do you ever wonder why technology companies push for an increase in H1B visas as part of immigration reform? They need skilled workers. There will be more than 1.2 million new STEM jobs in by 2018, says the U.S Department of Labor.

Why Companies Fall into the Management Lawsuit Trap — News headlines continue to show there are a myriad of ways managers set themselves up for lawsuits. Small and many big companies are ripe for EEOC complaints.

“Capitalism knows only one color: that color is green; all else is necessarily subservient to it, hence, race, gender and ethnicity cannot be considered within it.”

-Thomas Sowell


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.






Why Companies Fall into the Management Lawsuit Trap



News headlines continue to show there are a myriad of ways managers set themselves up for lawsuits. Small and many big companies are ripe for EEOC complaints.

The majority of lawsuits targeting management usually stem from a half dozen poor practices.

You’ll get into trouble using these six bad practices:

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1. Adherence to policies and procedures

Time and again, businesses are sued because managers fail to comply with company policy manuals.

Principals should always review policy manuals with managers, and get a signed receipt indicating that they understand policies.

Yes, any manager who strays from policy should be disciplined.

Only then, the managers should review the handbook with non-exempt staff.

2. Following discrimination and harassment policies

Periodically remind managers to be diligent to prevent discrimination and harassment in the workplace. Their employment status will be affected if they fail to adhere to policies, or if they to act professionally should policy violations occur.

3. Poor management of employee problems

Make certain managers know how to respond – not react in a knee-jerk fashion to employee problems. That means thinking about how to respond in all situations.

Typical worker problems include attendance, alcoholism drug use, and insubordination.

4. Retaliation or the appearance of being retaliatory

For example, courts frown on transfers if they look like a demotion. It looks suspicious if an employee suddenly receives an unsatisfactory performance appraisal or is not treated equally like other workers.

5. Terminations

Courts look to make certain terminations are handled well legally, and with civility and fairness. Typically, there are three key HR questions you must answer to the courts’ satisfaction when you terminate workers.

6. Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Typical problems result from FMLA misunderstandings over attendance policy, eligibility, notice requirements and worker reinstatement.

From the Coach’s Corner, for more strategies, here are related articles:

How to avoid EEOC Discrimination Suits — If you’re an out-of-work attorney, the good news is that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is on a hiring binge. The EEOC’s Web site also indicates the agency is recruiting for investigators to handle employment discrimination complaints. Of course, mediators, administrative support, managers, and IT personnel are also in demand. That means federal employment discrimination complaints are sky-high — a sad commentary for businesses and public agencies that are large enough for a human resources department.

21 Quick Tips to Avoid the Dark Side of Management — It’s true that not all complaints are valid. Many aren’t. Some originate from mere office politics. Managing employees is difficult. So the purpose here is not to indict the managers who are professional assiduous, empathetic, good motivators and make sure their workplace stays out of legal trouble. Here’s how to avoid HR troubles.

Human Resources: 12 Errors to Avoid in Evaluations — How should you properly evaluate employees? Make sure you are careful to avoid errors in evaluations. Naturally, you want to praise good performance and discourage bad. Commonly, there are 12 errors that managers make in performance evaluations.

Management — 4 Mindsets for Leadership in Performance Reviews — Are you nervous at the thought of giving employee-performance reviews? You’re not alone. Your employees aren’t exactly thrilled, either. Typically, employees aren’t convinced they can get valid feedback. If they’ve experienced poor managers, they likely dread the performance-review process or are skeptical of the outcome.

3 Often Asked Questions – Hiring and Laying Off Workers — Employers often ponder hiring and firing in this uncertain economy. So if you’re like many employers, coping with a tepid economic environment, you might need to re-think your approach to human resources, too. As you analyze your situation, wisdom and courage are your best friends in addressing three typical questions about guidelines in this uncertain economy.

Cutting Costs — 9 Best Practices to Avoid Making Reactionary Decisions — In chaotic times, it’s common for businesspeople to be fearful and reactionary when they feel they must cut expenses. But entrepreneurs need to be unemotional so that they make decisions that will bolster their objectives. They can take the emotion out of their decision-making — by eliminating stress factors – if their priorities are clearly defined with values. This is facilitated by documenting goals and priorities.

“Good management consists in showing average people how to do the work of superior people.”
-John D. Rockefeller

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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

How to avoid EEOC Discrimination Suits



If you’re an out-of-work attorney, the good news is that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is on a hiring binge. The EEOC’s Web site also indicates the agency is recruiting for investigators to handle employment discrimination complaints.

Of course, mediators, administrative support, managers, and IT personnel are also in demand.

That means federal employment discrimination complaints are sky-high — a sad commentary for businesses and public agencies that are large enough for a human resources department.

thinking-272677_1280This portal has received complaints that HR departments appear to be supporting and implementing such retaliation. Employees ask for ideas on how to deal with abusive employers in both the private and public sectors.

State courts across the nation are also filled with discrimination cases, too, because complainants want to avoid the federal caps on monetary damages.

Historically, high-profile harassment cases are a catalyst for additional complaints by other workers.

EEOC cases also lead to declining morale, retention problems and poor productivity, which are also costly.

While a federal-agency investigation doesn’t necessarily indicate a company is guilty of discrimination, it’s a serious situation and there are several measures that will insure success.

The first step in fighting lawsuit abuse is risk management

Veteran managers are often guilty and so are new managers who need to learn the right strategies to succeed.

Here are the six basics for micro-companies to remember:

1. Get a mentor and join your local chamber of commerce.
2. Consider outsourcing your payroll.
3. Implement benefits and retirement plans.
4. Create a policy and procedures handbook (job descriptions, hiring, appraisals, compensation, firing and operations).
5. Stay aware of all employment laws.
6. Document everything.

For larger companies, every company’s situation is different, but in general there are 13 basics to avoid EEOC headaches. In my experience, it’s important to learn how and why complaints are filed, and to treat employees with respect and confidentiality.

Law firms have asked my company to help their clients after U.S. District Court actions. In one case, I was asked to implement a wage and compensation plan after a trucking firm inadvertently violated federal laws. A well-meaning technology employer was fined for comments in an inappropriate interview-process and I was asked to conduct sexual harassment training.

Both companies were heavily fined and their lawyers cost even more. One company is no longer in business. So, it’s vital to know the proactive steps to eliminate workplace discrimination and harassment, and the practical benefits to you of equal opportunities for employees.

The key is to start where the proverbial tire meets the road – when employees are hired.

For larger companies, every company’s situation is different, but in general there are 13 basics to avoid EEOC headaches … it’s important to learn how and why complaints are filed, and to treat employees with respect and confidentiality.

Here are 13 strategies:

Fully understand the required skillsets. Naturally, first decide what each job requires. When a person leaves, decide what additional qualities you want in the job description. While experience and skills are an important consideration for meeting your requirements, there are several other considerations including hiring for attitude and professional appearance and aptitude for teamwork and customer service.

Review your application process. The appearance of discrimination can be unfortunate opportunities for applicants or the EEOC to file complaints regarding your hiring decisions. Review your interview checklist questions and employment applications so that you only inquire about applicants’ talent for the job and availability for attendance according to your required work hours.

When anyone requests an application stay safe by providing it, but don’t do it selectively to avoid the appearance of discrimination. Don’t set deadlines for applicants to apply unless you strictly adhere to them.

Interviewing. When you interview, ask open-ended questions to get the applicant to talk about any issues related to the job. Closed-ended answers in which an applicant answers with a “yes” or “no” won’t be productive. You’ll want to know about the person’s attitudes, expectations and values. A skilled interviewer is careful about commenting on an applicant’s answers.

Background checks. A background check is critical. If you ask questions of a reference or former employer, make certain to take the same precautions as you do with the applicant. If you utilize credit reports, adhere to the provisos in the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Making an offer. Put your offer in writing to successful applicants, but stipulate that you’re an at-will employer. State the salary in weekly or monthly amounts – so that longtime employment tenure is not implied – and whether there are any contingencies, such pre-employment medical exams. Hopefully, you have highly trained interviewers, but make clear that the letter is your company’s last word in employment and that it supersedes any other representations by interviewers.

Drug testing is often valuable for screening purposes. Applicants with a drug history will sometimes withdraw their applications, but the test is effective for those who don’t. In my experience, drug users are the most dishonest employees – at a much higher rate than even alcoholics.

Insuring success. Make full use of your probationary period. Assuming an employee adequately demonstrates technical skills, remember the No. 1 employer-complaint about new hires is their lack of soft skills – a poor attitude and inability to communicate effectively with coworkers and customers. Appraise them accordingly.

Employee handbook. For legal and productivity reasons, the employee handbook should be utilized to inform employees of your expectations. But clearly state a disclaimer – it’s not an employment contract – employment is conditional. Either party may terminate without cause or notice. Preferably, employees will be given an acknowledgment form regarding their at-will employment status.

The handbook should include policies such as attendance, benefits, vacation, employee-monitoring systems, probationary periods, sick leave, and FMLA (family and medical leave, if you employ 50 or more workers).

Make clear the company will not tolerate harassment and the procedures for reporting it. Remember, employers are liable for behavior of their employees. Should harassment allegations be raised by an employee, be sure to follow through with an immediate investigation and discipline, if proven, and don’t tolerate retaliation. Sexual harassment training, in particular, should be regularly given.

Avoid favoritism. Be consistent make sure of adherence to policies.

Be proactive about workplace complaints. Do not avoid taking action. Make sure you are actively listening.

Safety counts. Be empathetic and show respect. Be safety conscious.

Wage and hour practices. Stay current with all state and federal wage and hour laws and regulations. Some companies have run into trouble because their hourly employees are working longer hours as exempt managers and not paid for overtime. Carefully document your records.

Of course, try to be competitive in pay and benefits.

Continuous policy training. To insure success, make certain managers, human resource interviewers and workers are knowledgeable about your business policies. You’ll be in a better position to prevent harassment, hire correctly and appraise employees accurately. You’ll also be in a stronger position, if you do encounter the threat of litigation. Stay on top of all details, but also be mindful of the protected classes of workers to avoid federal intervention.

Evaluations and terminations. Supervisors and managers must be schooled in worker behavior, performance and if necessary, terminations. Not to oversimplify, but remember every employee is entitled to know three things: What’s expected; what’s in it for them; and how they’re doing.

Make certain that terminated employees can’t conclude they’re being let go for reasons of discrimination. Again, that means documentation and thorough footwork.

These minimal reminders will help you to avoid employment and EEOC traps. However, if you do find yourself in the EEOC crosshairs, be careful how you respond in crafting your position.

From the Coach’s Corner, this portal’s HR section has several dozen management tips.

Also, here are informative federal-government Web sites:

– U.S. Department of Labor, www.dol.gov

– U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, www.eeoc.gov

“Discrimination is a disease.”

-Roger Staubach


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.



Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.