Delve: When Meritocracy Blinds us to Gender Discrimination

Published: 21 January 2020

Meritocracies are predicated on the belief that only the best are chosen and that hard work and talent are always rewarded. If we presume that talent and hard work are not gender specific, then why is it that assumed meritocracies show extraordinary imbalances between men and women? Surprisingly, part of the answer is the assumption itself: Assuming a setting is a meritocracy can blind even those experiencing discrimination to its actual inequalities.

The engineering environment is one such setting. Although engineering may perceive itself as upholding the ideals of a true meritocracy, research from Professor Brian Rubineau has shown that this self-perception prevents members from recognizing the numerous instances in which meritocratic values fall short.

This article is brought to you by Delve, the official thought leadership publication of McGill University's Desautels Faculty of Management.

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