Managers’ Political Beliefs and Gender Inequality among Subordinates: Does His Ideology Matter More Than Hers?

Seth Carnahan, Brad N. Greenwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


To explore whether managers’ beliefs and attitudes influence gender inequality among their subordinates, we theorize about the relationship between managers’ political ideology, situated on a liberal–conservative continuum, and differences in the hiring, work team selection, and promotion of male versus female subordinates, as well as how a manager’s gender moderates this relationship. We analyze novel microdata from the U.S. legal industry from 2007 to 2012 and find that large law offices whose partners are more liberal hire a larger percentage of female associates, that more-liberal partners are more likely to select female associates to be members of their client teams, and that associates whose supervising partners are more liberal have greater gender parity in promotion rates. Further, we find that the ideology of male partners is significantly more influential than the ideology of female partners in affecting these differences. We find little evidence that sorting on the part of higher-quality female associates drives the results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)287-322
Number of pages36
JournalAdministrative science quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Associate Editor Chris Marquis and three anonymous reviewers whose efforts greatly improved this research. Jim Westphal’s detailed guidance was exceptionally valuable. We would also like to thank the Maryland Reading Group, Rajshree Agarwal, Forrest Briscoe, Elizabeth Campbell, Lisa Cohen, Jerry Davis, Abhinav Gupta, Don Hambrick, Sarah Liebschutz, MaryJane Rabier, Chris Rider, David Waguespack, Peter Younkin, and audience members at the Wharton People and Organizations Conference, McGill University, University of California–Riverside, and University of Michigan for their very helpful comments. Research support from the Strategy Research Foundation, Temple University, and University of Michigan is gratefully acknowledged. Adam Bonica generously shared data with us, and Joan Friedman and Linda Johanson provided significant editorial improvements. We would also like to thank Lexis-Nexis for its research assistance. The views and conclusions expressed in this manuscript are ours and do not necessarily reflect the views of Lexis-Nexis or its affiliates. All remaining errors are ours.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, © The Author(s) 2017.


  • employment relation
  • gender
  • inequality
  • labor markets
  • law firms


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