Elimination of Gender-Related Employment Disparities through Statistical Process Control

Mary E. Graham and Julie L. Hotchkiss
Working Paper 2008-24
October 2008

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This paper proposes a novel approach that has the potential to hasten the eradication of gender disparities in employment. This approach relies upon the concept of statistical process control (SPC) to more systematically remedy disparate employment outcomes for women. SPC also serves as a new vehicle for conceptualizing the influence of industry on equal employment opportunity (EEO) outcomes. Using data from U.S. Current Population Surveys, we compare industries on EEO performance as assessed by a recently developed Systemic Gender Disparity Scorecard. The theory and practice of SPC suggest that further improvement, and by far the greater opportunity for gender-related EEO progress, necessitates fundamental changes in each industry's practices and norms that serve as barriers to gender parity. We recommend more resources to support collaboration between employers and EEO enforcement agencies.

JEL classification: J78, M12

Key words: equal employment opportunity, statistical process control, discrimination, wage differentials

An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 2006 Academy of Management Meetings in Atlanta. Authors' names are in alphabetical order; each contributed equally to the paper. The views expressed here are the authors' and not necessarily those of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta or the Federal Reserve System. Any remaining errors are the authors' responsibility.

Please address questions regarding content to Mary E. Graham, Clarkson University, P.O. Box 5790, Potsdam, NY 13699, 315-268-6431, graham@clarkson.edu, or Julie Hotchkiss, Research Department, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, 1000 Peachtree Street, N.E., Atlanta, GA 30309-4470, 404-498-8198, julie.l.hotchkiss@atl.frb.org.

For further information, contact the Public Affairs Department, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, 1000 Peachtree Street, N.E., Atlanta, Georgia 30309-4470, 404-498-8020.