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Durham University

Research & business

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Publication details for Professor Susanne Braun

Heilman, M. E., Manzi, F. & Braun, S. (2015). Presumed incompetent: Perceived lack of fit and gender bias in recruitment and selection. In Handbook of gendered careers in management. Getting in, getting on, getting out. Broadbridge, A. M. & Fielden, S. L. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing. 90-104.

Author(s) from Durham


Despite women’s advancement in the workplace, their representation in male-dominated fields and occupations remains distressingly low. Women now comprise about half of the workforce, but very few end up at the top levels of business organizations. In 2013, women held only 16.9 per cent of corporate board seats in the USA, and only 4.6 per cent of executive directors were women (Catalyst, 2014). Percentages are similar in the UK: 15 per cent of board directors were women, and they comprised less than 7 per cent of the executive positions in British companies (Catalyst, 2012). What accounts for the scarcity of women in traditionally male roles? It is not a consequence of differential experience, education or skills. The overall percentage of undergraduate and graduate degrees (both Master’s and doctoral) obtained by women in the USA and the UK now exceeds that of men (National Center for Education Statistics, 2010; Higher Education Statistics Agency, 2012). Moreover, in terms of cognitive skills and abilities, women and men tend to be more similar than different (Biernat and Deaux, 2012).