Call it the Hermione effect: New study shows employers would rather hire women who got B’s than those who got A’s
By Amanda Marcotte
March 26, 2018
There are two schools of thought when it comes to what fuels the gender pay gap. Feminists tend to point to systematic discrimination, arguing that through various means over the course of women's lives, they are pushed out of higher-paid work into underpaid or unpaid labor. Anti-feminists argue that women themselves are the problem, suggesting that women tend to be too dull, lazy or frivolous to compete with men and choose instead to take on less challenging careers or a life of domesticity.
"Women, far more than men, appear to be drawn to jobs in the caring professions; and men are more likely to turn up in people-free zones," anti-feminist Christina Hoff Sommers has written, without interrogating why "caring" professions are routinely underpaid. (Probably because they're largely done by women.)
"Want to close wage gap? Step one: Change your major from feminist dance therapy to electrical engineering," she tweeted in 2015, in a snottier version of the argument that made clear her view that women simply are duller and lazier than men.
But what happens to women when they take Sommers' advice, and apply themselves energetically in college? A new study to be published in April's American Sociological Review shows that potential employers often hold that against them. For women who pick a traditionally "masculine" major, like math or the physical sciences, the discrimination they face for being a high achiever is even greater.
"There’s been a lot of research in sociology about how women now earn more college degrees than men, so it’s more likely for women to go to college than men and also to graduate," Natasha Quadlin, an assistant professor of sociology at Ohio State University, told Salon. "But there’s still lots of documented evidence of gender inequalities in the workplace and in society more broadly."