Paper: Are women from Venus?  A mixed-method study determining important predictors of job pursuit intention across gender groups

Paper: Are women from Venus? A mixed-method study determining important predictors of job pursuit intention across gender groups

Debolina Dutta, Professor Sushant Mishra

Journal: Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Journal

Gender inclusion is one of the most salient and visible aspects of organizational diversity. It has beneficial outcomes for organizations, such as increasing its competitive advantage, performance and enhancing its social image.

Women, at the workplace, experience issues surrounding flexibility, “glass cliff phenomenon”, sexuality at the workplace, ethnicity, and work-life balance. Most of these issues remain with a “gender denial” tendency leading to work-based disadvantages. However, the under-representation of women in the workforce is a reality. Organizations in emerging economies like India remain challenged in attracting female employees and increasing the gender representation in their workforce. The differences and preferences between genders are not easily evident, and consensus on preferences in work values and factors leading to job satisfaction remains ambiguous.

As recruitment practices impact employees’ entry into organizations, examining the salient predictors of job pursuit intention might foster gender inclusivity. Studies defining job pursuit intention have determined that characteristics of the job, organization, and perceived fit are critical predictors of job choice decisions. However, these are not exhaustive predictors. Further, the difference between gender preferences has not been explored.

This mixed-method study was conducted in two phases (Phase 1: A sample of 2084 professionals; Phase 2: Interviews of 20 senior HR professionals and 26 women professionals).

The study indicated that female applicants strongly prefer organizations demonstrating work-life balance policies, ethical, fair and non-discriminatory cultures, and better job security. The type of work and cultural alignment emerge as equally strong predictors of job pursuit intention for both genders.

Aspects of discrimination are pervasive in Indian organizations. These manifest as wage inequalities, negative attitudes, gender role stereotyping, discriminatory hiring practices, need to demonstrate continuity commitment, and an expectation to work harder than male counterparts. Indian managers appear conflicted between egalitarian beliefs valuing the diversity of thought and the positive impact on organization and society that increased gender representation would result in and the deeply entrenched beliefs of gender role stereotyping and perceived lower female employees’ commitment. The fairness and ethical behavior of organizations seeking to increase gender diversity has to manifest, not only in commensurate policies and lived in the organization’s values but communicated through strong employer brand signals. The expectation of fairness could manifest in multiple ways, such as an organization’s ability to practice its flexibility policies effectively. Initiatives like participation in surveys that highlight fair practices such as “Great place to work,” “Best employer to work for” and broadcasting high rankings on these surveys can signal a positive gendered climate and help attract, retain and ensure gender representation in the workplace. Further, showcasing women leaders as leaders and ambassadors of growth and development opportunities within the organization would signal gender supportive culture. The organization’s support systems regarding child and elder care, creche support, flexi-working, part-time working, and job sharing reinforce the organizations’ support and signal its keenness to set women up for success. Robust grievance redressal systems espouse a culture that promotes fairness and equity.