• Letian Zhang


2023, Paper: "This paper argues that the changing role expectation of managers could help explain the rise of women managers in the United States. Traditionally, a major impediment to women’s advancement into management has been role incongruity: the communal stereotype ascribed to women is inconsistent with the agentic expectation for ideal managers. To explain women’s recent progress into middle management, this paper underscores the changing expectations for middle managers. Instead of commanding and controlling their employees, today’s middle managers are increasingly expected to be collaborative and empathetic, qualities that align more closely with the communal stereotype about women. Through analyzing millions of managerial job ads and detailed firm demographic data, we find that managerial expectations have become increasingly collaborative and that firms expecting more collaborative managers have a much higher proportion of women in management. We conducted several placebo tests to account for endogeneity concerns, and an additional survey and experiment to identify mechanisms. Together, these findings suggest that the changing expectations for managers contributed to women’s rise into middle management, indicating that women’s advancement into traditionally authoritative positions remains a challenge."