DP14311 Gender Promotion Gaps: Career Aspirations and Workplace Discrimination

Author(s): Ghazala Y. Azmat, Vicente Cuñat, Emeric Henry
Publication Date: January 2020
Date Revised: May 2021
Keyword(s): career aspirations, gender gaps, Promotion
JEL(s): J16, J44, K40, M51
Programme Areas: Labour Economics, Public Economics, Industrial Organization
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=14311

Using a representative survey of U.S. lawyers, we document a sizeable gender gap in early partnership aspirations, which explains half of the later gender promotion gap. We propose a model to understand aspirations and then empirically test it. We show that aspirations induce greater effort and increase regret if a promotion is not obtained. Furthermore, aspirations are linked to fertility choices and workplace experiences (mentoring and discrimination). Facing harassment or demeaning comments at an early career stage affects later promotion, mediated via a change in aspirations. We highlight that measuring aspirations, and understanding how they are formed, is key to explaining gender career gaps.