College of Science and Health Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Spring 6-14-2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Goran Kuljanin, PhD

Second Advisor

Alice Stuhlmacher, PhD


Women remain underrepresented in the upper echelons of organizational management, which is known as organizational gender stratification (OGS). Individual processes, such as differential career choices between men and women, contribute to OGS, along with organizational processes, such as bias in performance appraisal evaluations. Furthermore, these factors hold implications for organizational workforce potential if promotion decisions depend on biased performance evaluations. The literature lacks an integration of these factors in examining their combinatorial dynamic effects, as well as an assessment of practical steps organizations can take to combat the cultivation of OGS. This study has two primary purposes. First, it examines how a set of five factors unfold over time and interactively lead to the emergence of key organizational outcomes such as OGS and organizational workforce potential. Second, it assesses the effectiveness of proposed human resource (HR) initiatives designed to reduce OGS and improve organizational workforce potential. To accomplish these goals, this study developed a computational model to conduct two virtual experiments on the set of factors responsible for OGS. The first virtual experiment focuses on examining the effects of the factors responsible for OGS, both individually and in combination. The second virtual experiment focuses on exploring how proposed HR initiatives may reduce OGS and ultimately improve organizational workforce potential. Results show that under three levels of bias (i.e., no bias, low bias, and high bias), differential patterns of OGS emerge based on the produced discrepancies between perceived performance and true performance of men and women. In other words, organizations are not promoting their top talent due to held perceptions, which impacts workforce potential. These effects occur more rapidly and severely under high bias. Three bundles of HR initiatives (i.e., combating bias, removing familial effects, and evening the playing fields) also differentially impact OGS. Combating bias (i.e., removing bias in performance appraisal evaluations and selection) most strongly reduces OGS as a result of equalizing perceived and true performance evaluations. Improving parental leave, providing equal opportunities, and evening the playing field (i.e., having more women in line positions) were not as effective in reducing OGS. The implications of this study are twofold: 1) for researchers, focusing on underlying top-down and bottom-up processes provides a more nuanced understanding of psychological phenomena, such as OGS; 2) for practitioners, solving OGS involves assessing multiple factors, and has implications for workforce potential; the present study suggests focusing on reducing bias in performance appraisal and selection to combat OGS.

SLP Collection