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February 1, 2022
Despite a large proportion of working mothers in the American workforce, research suggests that negative stereotypes and discrimination against working mothers continue to exist. In a set of two experimental studies, the current paper examined subtle discrimination against non-pregnant, working mothers in different hiring settings. In Study 1, using a between-subject field experiment and applying for geographically dispersed jobs with manipulated resumes, we found evidence for subtle discrimination, such that mothers received more negativity in callback messages than women without children, men without children, and fathers. They were also rejected more quickly than women without children and fathers. In Study 2, using a more controlled experimental paradigm, we tested our hypothesis in a hypothetical interview evaluation setting. We found that mothers faced more interpersonal hostility across different job types as compared to women without children. Together, these studies highlight the presence of subtle discrimination against working mothers at different stages of the hiring process.
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