Reject and Resubmit: A Formal Analysis of Gender Differences in Reapplication and Their Contribution to Women’s Presence in Talent Pipelines

Published: 17 February 2023

Brian Rubineau

Authors: Isabel Fernandez-Mateo, Brian Rubineau and Venkat Kuppuswamy

Publication: Organization Science, Forthcoming
Articles in Advance – published online: December 2022


A common explanation for women’s underrepresentation in many economic contexts is that women exit talent pipelines at higher rates than men. Recent empirical findings reveal that, in male-dominated selection contexts, women are less likely than men to reapply after being rejected for an opportunity. We examine the conditions under which this gender difference contributes to women’s underrepresentation in talent pipelines over time. We formally model and analyze the population dynamics of a generic selection context, which we then ground using three distinct empirical settings. We show that gender differences in reapplication are an important mechanism of gender segregation in some selection contexts but negligible in others. The extent to which gender differences in reapplication contribute to women’s underrepresentation is driven in part by the rejection rate. Higher rejection rates increase the stock of rejected applicants, which in turn enables gender differences in reapplication to disproportionally reduce women’s representation. The results demonstrate that interactions between individuals’ choices on the supply side and screeners’ behavior on the demand side may have consequences for gender inequality, even if we were able to fully eliminate demand-side biases. We discuss the theoretical and policy implications of our research for understanding women’s underrepresentation in talent pipelines. We also interrogate the effectiveness of common interventions focused on encouraging women to apply for opportunities in male-dominated domains.

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