Institute for Research on Labor and Employment
Who is Willing to Sacrifice Sacred Values for Money and Social Status? Gender Differences in Reactions to Taboo Trade-offs
- Author(s): Kennedy, Jessica A.
- Kray, Laura J.
- et al.
Women select into top business degree programs at a lower rate than men and are underrepresented in high-ranking positions in business organizations. We examined taboo trade-off aversion as one possible explanation for these patterns. In Study 1, we found that women implicitly associated business with immorality more than men did. In Study 2, when reading of decisions that compromised ethical values for social status and monetary gains, women reported feeling more moral outrage and perceived less business sense in the decisions than men. In Study 3, we established a causal relationship between taboo trade-off aversion and women’s disinterest in business careers by manipulating the presence of taboo trade-offs in job descriptions. As hypothesized, an interaction between gender and taboo trade-off presence emerged. Only when jobs involved making taboo trade-offs did women report less interest in the jobs than men. Women's moral reservations mediated these effects.