Does it Pay to Stand Out?: Examining the Effect of Gender Dissimilarity on Women’s Pay in Tech

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Conference Proceeding

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In this paper, we examine how managers within firms respond to external pressures for gender equity, with a focus on women’s pay in technology firms. While prior research has shown that firms respond to institutional pressure for gender equity, what remains unclear is what leads managers within firms to act on these pressures and how their actions may contribute to pay inequity within firms. We argue that the extent to which managers respond to external gender equity pressures will depend on their subordinates’ gender dissimilarity from the workgroup. Specifically, we theorize that women who are more dissimilar from their workgroups will receive higher pay compared to those who are less dissimilar. We further theorize that this positive effect will be stronger for women in technical roles and is driven by managers’ impression management concerns and perceptions of women’s work-related capabilities. Using a multi-method approach with archival data on executives in large publicly-traded technology firms, experimental data, and field data from a public technology firm, we find support for our hypotheses. Our results have implications for the study of organizational responses to institutional pressure, relational demography, and the gender pay gap.