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There is significant evidence that organizational work-family policies—such as parental leave, subsidized and on-site childcare, and flexible scheduling options—can have positive consequences for workers. At the same time, some theories posit that an unintended consequence of supportive work-family policies is that they may lead to perceptions of women and parents as being more costly employees, both financially and in terms of disruptions to the flow of work. Thus, organizations with more generous work-family policies may be less likely to hire workers that are more likely to utilize work-family policies, discriminating against women and parents. We examine this possibility using an original dataset that matches estimates of hiring discrimination from a field experiment with detailed information about the organizational work-family policies at the companies in the field experiment. We do not find evidence of a direct relationship between organizational work-family policies and discrimination against women, parents, or the intersection between being a woman and being a parent. We conclude by discussing the implications of these findings for scholarship on gender, work, and family.
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David Pedulla is Professor of Sociology at Harvard University. His research agenda examines the consequences of nonstandard, contingent, and precarious employment for workers’ social and economic outcomes as well as the processes leading to race and gender labor market stratification. David’s research has appeared in American Sociological Review, American Journal of Sociology, Social Forces, and other academic journals and his book, Making the Cut, was published by Princeton University Press in 2020. His work has been supported by organizations including the National Science Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. He was previously a member of the faculty of Stanford University and the University of Texas at Austin and received his Ph.D. in Sociology and Social Policy from Princeton University.