Female Hiring Managers are Wired to be More Selective!

Tim Sackett Hiring Bias, Hiring Managers, Interviewing, Recruiting, Women, Women in the Workplace 2 Comments

That seems sexist, Tim!

Really? Is it sexist if it’s true and based on science? Asking for my friend, Tim, who tends to struggle to know the difference between science and sexism!

Okay, here’s the science:

  • On Tinder, men swipe right (Like) on 60% of women’s profiles
  • On Tinder, women swipe right (Like) on 4% of men’s profiles

Nice, Tinder Science! Okay, here are some more real references to how much more selective females are than males – Here, Here, Here...

Okay, let’s assume we just agree that women tend to be more selective than males… with that in mind, let’s just assume the following…


Wouldn’t it make sense for your organization to only allow women to make hiring selections?


I mean, at the very least, you would probably want females involved in the process at some point prior to selection, with some kind of veto power, right? It seems like we can’t really trust dudes. When selecting a mate, guys pretty much take anyone who will take them!

Let’s face it, the hiring process is very much like the speed dating process.

  • Hey, do you like me/us?
  • Yes, I like you.
  • Hey, I think I like you too.
  • Here’s who we are and who I am!
  • Tell me about who you are and what you want!
  • Do you want the job?

Since we know we already have so much built-in hiring bias, the question then becomes what hiring/dating biases do women have? Why do women “swipe right” so infrequently? Also, why does a lady swipe left?

The studies look at evolutionary science when we talk about why we select someone over another. Evolution has taught us to select certain people based on certain traits. We like tall men. We like attractive features. We like people who we feel are ‘safe’ and have resources that will take care of us.

What does this have to do with hiring? Everything!

In having only women make hiring decisions, we know that they are more likely to choose ‘safe’ hires over risky hires. For most organizations, that’s a good thing. Most of us can look at a hire and see the high upside, but also a high downside. Men are more likely to take a risk on the upside, females are more likely to not take that risk.

Unfortunately, this plan is not without risk. Women also have some evolutionary science working against them. As it turns out, women are more likely to choose taller men over shorter men, even when the shorter man might have a better overall skill set (that has to be a sexist statement, right!?!).

I’m still bought in, though, I’ll take a few taller dudes walking around the shop, if overall we are being more selective in our hiring!

I’ve been married for over 25 years. Here’s what being married to a woman has taught me about being selective:

  • Women will ask more questions about stuff than men, on average.
  • Women are less likely to believe the ‘story’ they are told and will dig in.
  • Women will run a higher, organized process, on average.
  • If given a choice between two totally acceptable options, women are more likely to ask for a third option.
  • If not given a hireable candidate, women will swipe left; men, most likely, will swipe right.

I always love tests! I think in 2021 you should do some testing. A great A/B test in your organization would be to measure hires made by your female managers and hires made by your male managers and see who is making a better quality of hire. Which hires are performing better? Staying longer? Etc. What about those managers who are gender fluid? How do they stack up in selection? What if we had multiple genders in a selection panel?

What we are always pushing to do is find ‘our’ secret sauce for great hiring. Sometimes to find your sauce, you have to push boundaries out to the edge and see what works and what doesn’t.

Sure, this might seem like bad gender, corporate Olympics, but it might also unlock some serious discussion around how and why we make our best hires. The reality is, the ‘test’ would probably lead to better hiring because neither side wants to believe one gender is better at selection than another!

Comments 2

  1. It’s an interesting concept to think that females are more selective in the hiring process. We are all affected by bias in our decision making. It has been noted that, in spite of the progress made in gender equality in the workplace, when presented with equal-performing candidates, men were 1.5 times more likely to be hired. Additionally, when a lesser-qualified candidate is hired over a more-qualified, the lesser-qualified is a man two thirds of the time (Moss-Racusin, Dovidio, Brescoll, Graham, & Handelsman, 2012). In working to overcome our bias, there are strategies available. One of these is to interview candidates in a group setting. A Harvard study demonstrated that employers who interviewed candidates in a group setting were more likely to decrease gender bias as compared with an individualized hiring process (Bohnet, van Geen, & Bazerman, 2016). The thought process on this seems to be that when interviewing candidates individually, interviewees utilize their own biases to evaluate, however in a group setting the employer will compare candidates with one another and be able to have increased focus on candidate performance. Bias is a difficult influence to mitigate, however we must work diligently to decrease it to the extent possible. As you suggest, possibly having a majority female presence as part of an interview panel may be more effective.

    Bohnet, I., van Geen, A., & Bazerman, M. (2016). When Performance Trumps Gender Bias: Joint Versus Separate Evaluation. Management Science, 1225-1234.
    Moss-Racusin, C., Dovidio, J., Brescoll, V., Graham, M., & Handelsman, J. (2012, October 9). Science faculty’s subtle gender biases facor male students . Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, pp. 16474-16479.

  2. Unconscious bias and Title Seven walk into a bar, stop me if you heard this one before! The World Economic Forum spoke to the direct link between women at the C-level and positive gender representation across other ranks (BasuMallick, 2019). At the same time, research found women represent fewer than 50% of leaders in industry. It is fewer than 20% for energy and manufacturing (Duke, 2017). Is that because women are more selective, or men hire more men? A group setting, as suggested in the previous comment, is a great strategy to help overcome bias. Is that a good strategy as long as the group contains a woman? Maybe a lady only swipes left because she is judging purely on qualifications presented to her. It sounds to me that men need to boost up their resume when it comes to dating apps. As a woman who does hiring, qualifications, such as education and work history, get you the job. I would like to think that I am wired to hire the right person for the right job at the right time.

    Duke, S. The key to closing the gender gap? Putting more women in charge. World Economic Forum.
    BasuMallick, C. Men Tend to Hire Men, Whom Do Women Tend to Hire? HR Technologist.

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