“The aura of capability”: Gender bias in selection for a project manager job

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22 Scopus citations


There have been numerous studies examining the various manners in which female managers are subjected to negative stereotypes and bias, and how such bias influences hiring decisions. We sought to study the job selection challenge within the specific context of project management, a discipline that has historically been viewed as male-dominated, focusing on perceived differences in male and female job candidates based on a set of critical personal/managerial characteristics, including perceived competence, trust, likeability, and lack of perceived self-interest. We developed a scenario-based survey questionnaire and a between-subjects research design, sampled 312 project management personnel and tested subjects' reactions to two candidates for a project management position, employing identical descriptions and language while only changing the candidate's name: Susan or Stan. Our results suggested that all independent variables are significant predictors of the likelihood of a project manager candidate being hired. We only found evidence of gender bias in relation to perceived technical competence; in situations where the perceived technical competence of the job candidate was low, the female candidate was less likely to be hired over a male counterpart. On the other hand, as a candidate's perceived technical competence increased, the resulting attributions were significantly more beneficial for the female job seeker, who was more likely to be hired over a male candidate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)420-431
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Project Management
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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