Gender Sorting and the Glass Ceiling in High-Tech Firms

With few exceptions, studies have conceived of the glass ceiling as reflecting internal promotion biases. In this article, the authors argue that glass ceiling patterns can also be the result of external recruitment and hiring processes. Using data on people applying by means of the Internet for jobs at 441 small- and medium-sized high-tech firms, they find evidence that the glass ceiling is produced by both internal and external hiring processes. On the supply side, females are sorted into lower-level job queues than males. On the demand side, screening biases against women also are evident, but a series of “what if” simulations suggest that demand-side screening processes play a comparatively minor role in producing the glass ceiling pattern. These results suggest that bias remediation policies designed to equalize gender differences in hiring chances are likely to be less effective than recruitment and outreach policies designed to improve gender disparities in candidate pools.


  • Roberto M. Fernandez
  • Santiago Campero

Publication Type

Journal Name

ILR Review