Glass Floors and Glass Ceilings: Sex Homophily and Heterophily in Job Interviews

Lauren A. Rivera*, Jayanti Owens

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


A widely assumed but little-tested theory of employment interviewing suggests that female job applicants will be evaluated more favorably when they are paired with female versus male interviewers. To capitalize on this hypothesized affinity, a number of organizations have begun explicitly pairing female job applicants with female interviewers, in hopes of increasing the representation of women among new hires. However, whether this practice actually results in more favorable outcomes for female job candidates remains an open empirical question. Using data on job interview evaluations from a large, professional service organization, we test the effect of matching female job candidates with female interviewers on interview scores. Highlighting the contextually dependent nature of sex homophily, we find that the effect of being matched with a female interviewer varies by the female candidate's perceived skill level. Sex matches in job interviews work in favor of those female candidates perceived to be lowest in skill; have a small, statistically nonsignificant negative effect for female candidates of average perceived skill; and have a significant, negative effect for women at the highest level of perceived skill. We argue that matching female candidates with female evaluators in job interviews can operate both as a glass floor that can prevent female applicants from falling below a certain scoring threshold but also a glass ceiling that can prevent the most skilled female applicants from receiving the most favorable interview ratings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1363-1393
Number of pages31
JournalSocial Forces
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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