Research: When People See More Women at the Top, They’re Less Concerned About Gender Inequality Elsewhere
Over the last two decades, organizations have seen substantial progress in increasing women’s representation in top leadership. While the numbers are still far from parity, the general view is that this progress for women in top leadership will naturally spread to improve women’s outcomes in other domains, such as pay equality. But is this true? Researchers conducted five studies measuring or experimentally manipulating people’s perceptions of gender diversity in top leadership, and found a strikingly consistent pattern: when people perceive greater levels of women’s representation in top leadership, they overgeneralize the extent to which women have access to equal opportunities, which then decreases their concern with gender inequality in pay and other domains. These findings are worrisome because people’s concern with inequality ultimately predicts their willingness to address it.