Today we’re exploring the gender bias in promotional staffing, long the domain of a female dominated workforce. Utilising anonymous data derived from the tens of thousands of shifts booked by staffing agencies using Watu, we’re able to deliver some insight on this topic.
Are there more men or women registered as active staffers at an agency? The answer is clear:
There are almost three times as many women registered as there are men. The second question is where things get a bit trickier. What percentage of bookings go to women and which go to men?
There are twice as many shifts with a female worker as there are with a male worker. The event and promotions industry seems to have more work for women, even more women want to work in it, making the demand for men relatively higher.
This is just the tip of the iceberg in how work is distributed. To understand more, we need to divide the shifts into different groups. For example, we can analyze recurring work versus one-off shifts according to gender:
For the people that worked between 1 and 20 shifts, in total, the proportions we see are similar to the ones we see in the industry as a whole. But when we look at those that come back and keep on working, 21 shifts or more, we see a clear bias towards men. 51 or more shifts and women do not even get twice as much work as men (when there are 3 times more women than men).
There are many potential explanations for this. Women tend to be more prevalent in temporary or short lived jobs because they tend to get many other duties, like taking care of kids, elderly family members, the house, even pets! We are not claiming this is good of course, but it is, it would be unwise to ignore this reality when looking at data.
Let’s not ignore the elephant in the room, the controversial issue. What if female workers experience a greater churn because their performance is lower than their male counterparts? Fortunately, we can easily look into that hypothesis because the sign-off system at Watu keeps a good track of who does a poor job and when. Let’s look at it:
If we ignore the values in the vertical axis we can quickly jump to funny conclusions like: men are late, women don’t show up. The truth is that those values are all very low to the point they don’t matter. They are below statistical noise.
There’s another potential reason we can explore. If men are getting more positions of the kinds that people like to build careers around, they are more likely to keep on coming for more work. We can do that by looking at the gender bias according to role:
Indeed the top managerial roles are very biased towards men. Don’t forget that overall this is an industry that has 3 times more women than men, but event managers are much more likely to be men than women. That means that the average team is one man leading a group of women.
The next step would be to measure the performance of female event managers vs their male counterparts, but the numbers end up being so low, that it doesn’t make any sense to work with them.
It is possible that even with this data in mind, this industry is one of the least sexist of all, we could only know that by getting similar data from other industries. Without that information we refrain from making any conclusions except to say that things could be better.