The Social Class Disadvantage for Attaining Management Positions

It matters greatly for individuals, organizations and societies whether particular groups are disadvantaged for attaining management positions. Low social class origin is a likely candidate for such disadvantage, as it is associated with disadvantage on other measures of attainment, but there is a dearth of research relating social class to the attainment of management positions, particularly relative to other sources of disadvantage such as gender and race. The AOM article shows that in the United States, individuals from lower social class origins are substantially less likely to be managers, and the disadvantage is comparable in magnitude to the disadvantage experienced by women and African Americans. A key mechanism behind this social class disadvantage is education, but there are others, mostly relating to deficits of cultural capital associated with lower social class origins. This article also examines the magnitude of social class disadvantage for attaining management positions around the world, and finds that it is substantive in almost every country, and associated with indicators of national culture, such as individualism and materialism; with economic indicators, such as gross domestic product per capita and the unemployment rate; and with measures of human development.