Effects of Preferential Selection and Discrimination on Women's Felt Competence and Performance on a Leadership Task
When organizations implement hiring policies that may use preferential selection (PS), it is important to consider beneficiaries’ reactions towards such policies. Two laboratory studies examined whether strengths of PS programs affected women’s reactions towards these programs differently. Undergraduate women performed a diagnostic leadership task and were led to believe they were selected to participate because (a) they were among the most qualified (merit-based selection), (b) they were among the most qualified but gender was also a factor in selection (weak PS), or (c) they met a minimum qualification standard and gender was a factor in selection (strong PS). Results indicate that participants in the strong PS condition, but not participants in the weak PS condition, experienced more adverse reactions and worsened performance, compared with participants in the merit-only selection condition. Thus, it appears that women’s adverse reactions towards PS are mitigated if their competence is clearly outlined.