IZA DP No. 4858: The Glass Door: The Gender Composition of Newly-Hired Workers Across Hierarchical Job Levels
This paper examines the gender composition of the flow of new hirees along the organizational hierarchy of jobs. We find that women have a reduced chance to be hired at higher hierarchical levels. We refer to this phenomenon as the "glass door". The glass door consists of an absolute and a relative effect. First, there is a reduced probability of women being recruited for jobs at higher hierarchical levels. Second, a larger fraction of jobs below the focal level of hiring within the firm reduces the relative inflow of female hirees. The latter component leads women moving to firms in which the job has a lower relative position in the hierarchical structure. We explain the glass door phenomenon by a theoretical model of the firm’s decision to hire a woman. The model is based on two key assumptions. First, women have a higher probability of leaving due to their higher valuation of non-market activities. Second, a voluntary quit leads to a larger decrease in the production of lower level co-workers when the worker who leaves has a position in the upper tier of the hierarchy. The glass door implies that the value of women's outside option in the labor market is lower. It may provide an additional explanation of why a glass ceiling can be sustainable as an equilibrium phenomenon.