16 November 2014
Bias against selecting women for elected or executive positions can be overcome by ensuring a 50/50 gender split in the selection pool, according to new international research commissioned by the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney.
The ground-breaking research, conducted by academics at the University of Sydney, Harvard University (United States) and Erasmus University (Netherlands), found that providing decision-makers with an equal number of women and men to choose from led to significantly more female candidates being selected (see below).
Study lead Dr Danielle Merrett from the United States Studies Centre says that the findings can be applied to increase female representation in leadership roles in business as well as at the ballot box.
"This preliminary research shows that when provided with an equal choice between men and women, we are much more likely to select on merit and ignore any pre-existing selection bias against women," she says.
“Unlike a traditional quota system based on the number of selected candidates, providing fairer shortlists and ballot papers is relatively easy to implement and much less controversial.”
The research is part of the US Studies Centre-led W21 project, a 21st century global women's initiative.
The findings will be launched at the G20-related International Dialogue on Women in Leadership in Brisbane on 16-17 November.
More information is contained in the research brief available here.