Despite lab-based evidence supporting the argument that double standards — by which one group is unfairly held to stricter standards than another — explain observed gender differences in evaluations, it remains unclear whether double standards also affect evaluations in organization and market contexts, where competitive pressures create a disincentive to discriminate. Using data from a field study of investment professionals sharing recommendations on an online platform, and drawing on status theory, we identify the conditions under which double standards in multistage evaluations contribute to unequal outcomes for men and women. We find that double standards disadvantaging women are most likely when evaluators face heightened search costs related to the number of candidates being compared or higher levels of uncertainty stemming from variation in the amount of pertinent information available. We rule out that systematic gender differences in the actions or characteristics of the investment professionals being evaluated are driving these results. By more carefully isolating the role of this status-based mechanism of discrimination for perpetuating gender inequality, this study identifies not only whether but also the conditions under which gender-based double standards lead to a female disadvantage, even when relevant and objective information about performance is readily available.

Tristan Botelho and Mabel Abraham
Journal Article
Publication Date
Administrative Science Quarterly

Full Citation

Botelho, Tristan and Mabel Abraham
. “Pursuing Quality: How Search Costs and Uncertainty Magnify Gender-based Double Standards in a Multistage Evaluation Process.”
Administrative Science Quarterly
, (February 01, 2017):