Melissa Gruys (Committee Member), Corey Miller (Committee Chair), Valerie Shalin (Committee Member), Debra Steele-Johnson (Committee Member)
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Token theory (Kanter, 1977) suggests that being a token individual in an organization can cause that individual to experience discrimination, increased pressure to perform, isolation from the majority group, negative stereotyping, and can interfere with performance. The purpose of this research was to determine if varying percentages of females in a work role do indeed influence the likelihood that these negative outcomes will occur by using performance data from an applied sample. By using both supervisor ratings and objective sales figures from a sales organization, this research filled a gap in the current research, in which token theory is often referred to but rarely empirically tested with actual performance data. The influence of tenure and its effect on both percentage of women in the work role and performance was also examined. Results indicated that there is a small but consistent token effect for lower-tenure female employees. Lower tenure women were more likely to have higher supervisor ratings as the percentage of women increased. Objective performance in the form of sales dollars tended to increase as the percentage of women increased. Tenure influenced this relationship such that higher tenure employees had a positive relationship between percentage of women in the work role and sales figures, whereas lower tenure employees had a negative relationship between percentage of women in the work role and sales figures. There was also a fairly strong relationship between percentage of women in a work role and tenure. There were no significant differences between men and women in supervisor ratings, but there were moderate differences in sales figures, in that men had higher sales figures compared to women. Implications and future research are discussed.
Department or Program
Department of Psychology
Year Degree Awarded
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