Stijn Baert (Ghent University), Sticky Floors - Due to Employer or Employee Preferences, Econometrics and Empirical Economics Seminar, TSE, March 14, 2017, 15:30–17:00, room MS 001.


Sticky floors can be described as the pattern that women are, compared to men, less likely to (start to) climb the job ladder. Based on the literature, it is unclear whether sticky floors result from (i) gender differences in human capital, (ii) preferences at the employee side or (iii) preferences at the employer side. By means of two experiments, we investigate the importance of employee and employer preferences in explaining sticky floors, keeping human capital constant. First, by means of a randomised field experiment in the Belgian labour market we test whether hiring discrimination based on gender is heterogeneous by the promotion characteristics of the selected jobs. We find that women get 33% less interview invitations when they apply for jobs implying a first promotion in functional level. Second, in a vignette study male and female participants had to score the likeliness with which they would accept job offers with different promotion characteristics (were surveyed on a number of preferences and attitudes). The main findings are that female young professionals have a less pronounced preference for jobs implying a promotion in terms of job content and that this effect is mediated by the greater risk aversion and anticipated gender discrimination among the women in our sample.