High-Hanging Fruit: How Gender Bias Remains Entrenched in Performance Evaluations. By: Wynn, Alison T. and Carian, Emily K. 2023. Social Problems.

Organizations are increasingly engaging in concerted efforts to mitigate bias in processes such as performance evaluations. However, little research examines what makes bias easier for organizations to address through formal initiatives and what makes bias more resistant to such change. When organizations shed light on the biases embedded in a particular organizational process, where are interventions successful, and where do they fall short? Using a longitudinal sample of performance evaluations from an elite professional services firm, we find that managers have an easier time reducing gender differences in the way they view employees’ behaviors, as compared to the way managers value those behaviors. Managers successfully decreased gendered descriptions of personality and communication style. However, when we examine the relationship between language patterns and rating, we find that the same behaviors correspond with a different payoff for women and men. Our findings add to the literature on organizational change by identifying the successes and challenges of bias mitigation efforts aimed at training managers, and we contribute to research on status and stereotypes by identifying new pathways through which cultural ideas about gender impact the evaluation of employees.