Recruiting (Dis)Advantage: Men’s Versus Women’s Evaluations of Gender-Based Targeted Recruitment

Brian D. Webster, Alexis N. Smith, Joongseo Kim, Marla Baskerville Watkins, Bryan D. Edwards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Organizations use targeted recruitment to attract applicants with specific demographic characteristics to diversify the workforce. Research reports mixed findings regarding the extent to which beneficiaries (i.e., those specifically targeted) are attracted to organizations. We explore this inconsistency by investigating how U.S. college men and women (in Studies 1a, n = 239, and 1b, n = 223) and working adults (in Study 2, n = 128) respond to recruitment materials targeted toward members of the traditionally underrepresented gender—a police department that recruits women and a nursing department that recruits men. As predicted, we found that women report high perceived disadvantage when men are targeted for nursing. However, we show that a gender asymmetry exists such that men and women respond differently when targeted for occupations in which they are typically the minority gender. Specifically, men targeted for nursing positions respond with more perceived disadvantage than do women being recruited to police positions. Our results suggest that backlash may occur such that some groups (i.e., men) respond negatively to targeted recruitment. The implications of our study shed light on an important topic for organizations, researchers, policymakers, and job seekers alike.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)706-721
Number of pages16
JournalSex Roles
Issue number11-12
StatePublished - Dec 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gender Studies
  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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