“If you want to be perceived as Competent and Influential, it sure helps to be a man over 35.”

That’s among the conclusions of a study using age to understand gender bias, based on over a million ratings of business profile photos.

The short version:

  • Both men’s and women’s perceived competence increases with age, but men’s increases 6 times faster.
  • Both men’s and women’s perceived influence increases with age, but men’s increases 2.5 times faster.
  • Women’s perceived likability declines rapidly with age while men’s stays about the same.

Not surprising, but perhaps particularly important during interview season, when academics are asked to assess job candidates for competence, influence (/reputation) and likability (/collegiality) in ways that cannot fail to be affected by perceptions of their age and gender.

2 thoughts on ““If you want to be perceived as Competent and Influential, it sure helps to be a man over 35.”

  1. My experience as search committee member is rather the opposite. If you are over a certain age, I think you are much less likely to be interviewed for TT positions (and it may be worse for women than men). When on two search committees, I’ve heard other SC members explain to me that older candidates (1) lack a promising ‘career arc’; (2) will be less able to relate to students/be less energetic in teaching; (3) are out of touch with current developments in their field (if they received their degree more than x years ago); (4) will be set in their ways and less willing to adjust in order to fit into the culture of the department. I’ve even heard the absurd claim (so wrong on so many levels) that hiring a youngish man for the position will help the department recruit female majors.

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