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License To Discriminate: The Influence of Helping Women On Solo Women’s Reactions To Female Candidates In The Selection Process

Solo women in high-prestige work groups are expected to advocate for other women as potential work group peers. However, research has shown that women are not always supportive of each other. Given these finding, management in search of women to fill the role of advocate may look to those who have acted as allies by voluntarily helping other women in the past. Ironically, female solos who voluntarily help other women may feel morally licensed to abdicate the opportunity to select a female candidate. We showed that female solos who helped a woman discriminated against another woman in the selection process more than those who did not have the opportunity to demonstrate allyship or who were assigned to help and revealed value threat as the mechanism underlying women’s selection decisions. Furthermore, we show that women proactively establish themselves as allies to obscuring the negative judgements associated with bias against another woman.

Michelle Duguid
Cornell University
United States


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