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Why Not Ascription? Organizations' Employment of Male and Female Managers

Barbara F. Reskin and Debra Branch McBrier
American Sociological Review
Vol. 65, No. 2 (Apr., 2000), pp. 210-233
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2657438
Page Count: 24
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Why Not Ascription? Organizations' Employment of Male and Female Managers
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Abstract

We examine the effects of organizations' employment practices on sex-based ascription in managerial jobs. Given men's initial preponderance in management, we argue that inertia, sex labels, and power dynamics predispose organizations to use sex-based ascription when staffing managerial jobs, but that personnel practices can invite or curtail ascription. Our results-based on data from a national probability sample of 516 work organizations-show that specific personnel practices affect the sexual division of managerial labor. Net of controls for the composition of the labor supply, open recruitment methods are associated with women holding a greater share of management jobs, while recruitment through informal networks increases men's share. Formalizing personnel practices reduces men's share of management jobs, especially in large establishments, presumably because formalization checks ascription in job assignments, evaluation, and factors that affect attrition. Thus, through their personnel practices, establishments license or limit ascription.

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