Description of the research
Women compared to men start their labour market careers at disadvantage, which only grows larger over time. This career divergence results in the underrepresentation of women in positions of power, which is bound to bear an important cost to individuals, firms, and society. It is likely to be linked with a misallocation of talent, make the glass ceiling more impenetrable, and hinder future progress towards equality. The main objective of this project, which is financed through Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship, is to further our understanding of the causes of this divergence.
Although an important part of the political agenda for decades, the issues of gender-related differences in labour market outcomes became highly salient over the last several years, partly due to the exposure of harassment in the workplace in a number of high-profile cases. This triggered a renewed debate on the best practices addressed at reducing workplace gender imbalances. The first step in this direction, however, should be the identification of the underlying causes of such imbalances. This is exactly what this project aims to do.
The particular focus is on the role of firms, specifically gender composition of firms. The two questions targeted by this project are: How does firms’ gender composition affect career profiles of women? Can policies such as gender quotas be effective in reducing gender imbalances by changing gender composition of firms?
The project combines reduced form analysis and a model-based structural approach. The analysis is performed using high quality German and Italian administrative data, which allows the study of the patterns in the career divergence from the onset, before any on-the-job experience and choices are taken. Furthermore, within the Italian context and exploiting a recent reform, the project will also study the impact of gender quotes in firms’ boards on the career development of women. All in all, the conclusions of this research are expected to shed light on the role of firms when it comes to gender inequality as well as on the efficacy of policies design to reduce inequality, such as gender quotas.
The question I address speaks directly to an ongoing global political and economic debate. The approach I take is novel and the results have the potential to considerably contribute to our understanding of the underlying causes of workplace gender imbalances. Understanding why labour market careers of women stagnate is the first and necessary step in addressing gender inequality. The ultimate objective of this project is to provide the key stakeholders, such as firms, workers and policymakers, with such understanding.