Lecture 18: Gender, Discrimination, and Identity | Summary and Q&A

September 27, 2021
MIT OpenCourseWare
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Lecture 18: Gender, Discrimination, and Identity


Gender bias and identity norms play a significant role in the workplace, impacting task allocation, promotions, and wage gaps.

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Key Insights

  • ⚧️ Blind auditions in orchestras have increased gender diversity and reduced discrimination, highlighting the role of technology in addressing gender biases.
  • 🎓 Gender gaps persist despite advancements in education and technology, necessitating further efforts to reduce discrimination.
  • 🥺 People's beliefs about gender capabilities can impact task allocation and job opportunities, leading to disparities in career progression.
  • 🧔‍♀️ Identity norms regarding gender can influence behavior and decision-making, causing women to hesitate in pursuing ambitious careers.
  • 😘 The arrival of children reinforces gender disparities, with women experiencing lower earnings and reduced career prospects.
  • ⚧️ Gender-neutral policies, such as tenure clock stopping, can potentially alleviate gender biases, but their effectiveness relies on implementation and enforcement.


[SQUEAKING] [RUSTLING] [CLICKING] FRANK SCHILBACH: Welcome to Lecture 18 of 14.13. This lecture's about gender discrimination and identity. OK. So what's the agenda today? Generally, we're going to talk about gender, identity, and particularly, discrimination. First, I'm going to give you a broad and a quick overview of why this is an important are... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: Why is it important to study gender differences?

Gender differences should be analyzed to ensure equality, fairness, and justice in workplaces. It also impacts productivity and welfare, with discrimination hindering the benefits of allocating talent effectively.

Q: How does the gender wage gap evolve over time?

The gender wage gap has been reduced but remains significant. In 2010, women earned 72% of men's mean annual earnings and 77% of men's median earnings, even after controlling for work time and education.

Q: What impact do gender identity norms have on women's careers?

Gender identity norms, such as men should earn more than women, contribute to women's hesitancy in pursuing ambitious career paths. Women often face social pressure to prioritize household tasks and caregiving over work.

Q: How do unintended biases affect hiring decisions?

Studies have shown biases in hiring decisions, with white-sounding names receiving more callbacks than African-American-sounding names. Biased beliefs or case-based discrimination can lead to unequal opportunities and hinder diversity in the workforce.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Gender discrimination and identity are important topics to study due to equality and fairness concerns, as well as the impact on productivity and welfare.

  • Despite advancements in reducing the gender gap, substantial differences in earnings and opportunities remain, with women facing challenges in career advancement.

  • Technological solutions, such as blind auditions in orchestras, have proven effective in reducing discrimination, but biases still persist due to beliefs and social norms.

  • Gender identity norms contribute to women's lower participation in research and higher involvement in non-promotable tasks, while the arrival of children further widens gender disparities.

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