Using a study on foundings of Silicon Valley law firms, I propose and test an organizational theory on the genealogical persistence of gender inequality that emphasizes the routines (or blueprints) and experiences that founders transfer from their parent firms to their new firms. This transfer links the parent firm's gender hierarchy to women's advancement opportunities in the new firm. Founders from parent firms that historically had women in leadership positions, such that female leadership is institutionalized, are more likely to found firms that promote women into prominent positions. Conversely, founders from firms that historically had women in subordinate positions, such that female subordination is institutionalized, are less likely to promote women into prominent positions. Findings are consistent with the theory and also show that the persistence effect is stronger for founders who were previously lower-ranked employees and for founders who institute an organization of work similar to their parent firm. The study suggests that future research should investigate routines and structures that not only generate gender inequality unintentionally but are in turn replicated across generations of organization through the mobility of employees.
Administrative Science Quarterlyvol.
50, (September 01, 2005):