Having a high college GPA should strengthen the appeal of a job candidate’s resume. However, for women who majored in STEM fields, this is not necessarily the case. An article in Science Daily features Natasha Quadlin’s recent study, which found disparities in callback rates between men and women who majored in math.
In the study, Quadlin created 2,106 resumes for math, English, and business majors, and sent two applications — one man and one woman — to 261 hiring managers for entry-level, non-major-specific jobs openings. There were no discrepancies in callback rates for business or English majors with GPAs in the A and A- range. For math majors, men had similar callback rates regardless of GPA, but women with high GPAs actually had lower callback rates than those with moderate GPAs. Quadlin explains,
“Men were more likely to get a call back if they were seen as having more competence and commitment, but only ‘likability’ seemed to benefit women… And likability is associated with moderate academic achievement… [Also,] there’s a particularly strong bias against female math majors — women who flourish in male-dominated fields — perhaps because they’re violating gender norms in terms of what they’re supposed to be good at.”
In other words, employers perceived high-achieving women — particularly those who did well in male-dominated fields in college — as unlikable. In response, Quadlin urges these women to seek out employers who value their achievements, but more importantly, she argues that hiring managers must reevaluate their biases, however unintentional they may be.