He's Overqualified, She's Highly Committed: Qualification Signals and Gendered Assumptions about Job Candidate Commitment

(authors: Campbell & Hahl)Forthcoming at Organization Science

Abstract. Evidence suggests that possessing more qualifications than is necessary for a job (i.e., overqualification) negatively impacts job candidates’ outcomes. However, unfair discounting of women’s qualifications and negative assumptions about women’s career commitment imply that female candidates must be overqualified to achieve the same outcomes as male candidates. Across two studies, experimental and qualitative data provide converging evidence in support of this assertion, showing that gender differences in how overqualification impacts hiring outcomes are due to the type of commitment—firm or career—that is most salient during evaluations. Overqualified men are perceived to be less committed to the prospective firm, and less likely to be hired as a result, than sufficiently qualified men. But overqualified women are perceived to be more committed to their careers than qualified women because overqualification helps overcome negative assumptions that are made about women’s career commitment. Overqualification also does not decrease perceptions of women’s firm commitment like it does for men: supplemental qualitative and experimental evidence reveal that hiring managers rationalize women’s overqualification in a way they cannot for men by relying on gender stereotypes about communality and assumptions about candidates’ experiences with gender discrimination at prior firms. These findings suggest that female candidates must demonstrate their commitment along two dimensions (firm and career), but male candidates need only demonstrate their commitment along one dimension (firm). Taken together, differences in how overqualification impacts male versus female candidates’ outcomes are evidence of gender inequality in hiring processes, operating through gendered assumptions about commitment.

Working Papers

From Exception to Exceptional: How Gender and Tenure Impact Sponsor Effectiveness

(authors: Campbell, Aven, & Chow)Stage: Revision under review at Academy of Management Discoveries

Sponsorship as Intermediated Impression Management

(authors: Chow & Campbell)Stage: R&R at Research in Organizational Behavior

An Investment Opportunity or Your Duty? Gender and Mental Models for Mobilizing Social Capital in Sponsorship

(author: Campbell)Stage: Working Paper

For information on early stage work, see CV.