Sunday reading for March 16, 2014:
1. Greg McKeown, author of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less has a great post up on Linkedin espousing the merits of hiring slowly and firing quickly. This one intuitively made sense to me. After all, in our personal lives we don’t (typically?) jump into life-altering commitments with strangers after a few short conversations and lunch. But when it comes to the hiring process this is precisely what happens. A candidate has a phone discussion or two with a hiring manager, and then the parties spend a few hours showing one another the best aspects of themselves over lunch/a face-to-face interview. From there, both sides commit to an employment arrangement that usually has huge financial implications all-around (not to mention uprooting of the candidate’s routine if not life).
Afterwards, due to the enormity of the upfront commitment, everyone is so determined to make things work that even if the situation ends up being untenable the arrangement continues well past the point where there should have been a break. But perhaps there’s a better way to do things? McKeown thinks this may be the case, and he outlines his philosophy on what companies should be doing differently when it comes to hiring and firing talent here.
2. Opinion Columnist Catherine Rampell has an article up at the Washington Post that suggests broad-based differences in how men and women value high grades may be causing qualified female students to self-select out of the majors which offer the best prospects for high career earnings. The article draws upon research from Stuart Rojstaczer and Christopher Healy analyzing grade point average across departments. It also looks at work from Claudia Goldin exploring the ways introductory course grades impact the decisions of men and women to continue in the most difficult majors, respectively.
The findings of these studies suggest that – despite being just as prepared as males to succeed in STEM disciplines entering college – women are not majoring in such fields as frequently as men. Based on the research, this seems to be in part because women are substantially less likely than their male counterparts to continue in a discipline if they receive a grade of less than “A”. Of course, much (all?) of what’s here is looking at correlations – there’s no definitive causal factor that has been identified. I’d encourage you to check out the entire piece here and draw your own conclusions on what the findings mean.
…With that said, I’d like to close today with a question: If more females than males are self-selecting out of the most financially lucrative disciplines because of adequate (but not exceptional) performance then what (if anything) should employers – and society – be doing to change this? Much of our choices in life are tied to our perceptions of what’s possible. As such, if society is (implicitly?) teaching females different lessons about what success looks then I think we need to change that, somehow.
Please share your thoughts in the comments below.