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Apparently recruiters favour men with 'potential' over experienced women

It seems women's experience doesn't count for much in the jobs market.

by Jack Torrance
Last Updated: 03 Jun 2015

When it comes to landing your next job, a CV packed with solid experience is key, right? Wrong, according to an experiment conducted by researchers at the University of Kent.

They got 98 people to assess the applications of four people for a managerial role – two men and two women, one of each showing ‘high potential’ and one of each demonstrating strong performance. They were asked to comment on which of them was most likely to be successful, and which had the best CV.

You might expect the recruiters to favour those with solid experience (and hope that gender doesn’t come into it), but in fact the highest rated were the men who were thought to have strong potential. It seems if you’re a woman, even an impressive track record isn’t enough to overcome the inbuilt prejudice of some recruiters.

‘The findings have implications for gender equality in the workplace and provide initial evidence that women's leadership potential is not recognised by potential employers,’ said Abigail Player, one of the researchers. ‘This is a significant barrier to career progression and success for women.’

It’s hard to suggest how this barrier can be overcome. In the short term using anonymised CVs or quotas to decide who to ask in for interview could bring about some positive change, but it’s seeing more women in top roles that is most likely to break down prejudice in the hiring process.

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