A Mathematical Model of Gender Bias and Homophily in Professional Hierarchies

Department of Mathematics & Statistics


Kaitlin Hill, Wake Forest University
Thursday, October 8, 2020
11am – 12pm, Virtual Lecture

“A Mathematical Model of Gender Bias and Homophily in Professional Hierarchies”

Gender representation has been improving toward parity in the past several decades for many professions, such as mathematics, medicine, and biology. However, this representation becomes more skewed toward one gender as workers move up to higher-level positions in many professional hierarchies. Sociologists have attributed this effect to various cultural and psychological factors, such as self-segregation (homophily) and bias. We present a minimal ordinary differential equations model that relates the roles of these two factors to the progression of gender fraction through a theoretical professional hierarchy. We analyze the behavior of solutions as homophily and bias vary, and identify rich dynamics, including oscillatory behavior and Takens-Bogdanov bifurcations. We validate the model by analyzing a new database of gender fractionation over time for 15 professional hierarchies.


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