Gender-blind studies consistently show that removing gender from decisions improves women’s chances of success. One study found that replacing a woman’s name with a man’s name on a résumé improved the odds of getting hired by 61 percent.
Situation: Male performance is often overestimated compared to female performance, starting with mothers overestimating boys’ crawling ability and underestimating girls’. This bias is even more pronounced when review criteria are unclear, making individuals more likely to rely on gut feelings and personal inferences. Over time, even small deviations in performance evaluation have a significant impact on women’s careers. This difference in the perceived performance of men and women also helps explain why women are hired and promoted based on what they have already accomplished, while men are hired and promoted based on their potential.
Solution: Look for opportunities for gender-blind evaluations in hiring. When evaluating performance, make sure managers are aware of gender bias. Be specific about what constitutes excellent performance, and make sure goals are set in advance, understood, and measurable. Ask managers to explain the reasons for their evaluations—and do the same yourself. When people are accountable for their decisions, they are more motivated to think through them carefully.