American Economic Review: Vol. 90 No. 4 (September 2000)


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Mentoring and Diversity

Article Citation

Athey, Susan, Christopher Avery, and Peter Zemsky. 2000. "Mentoring and Diversity." American Economic Review, 90(4): 765-786.

DOI: 10.1257/aer.90.4.765


We study how diversity evolves at a firm with entry-level and upper-level employees who vary in ability and "type" (gender or ethnicity). The ability of entry-level employees is increased by mentoring. An employ receives more mentoring when more upper-level employees have the same type. Optimal promotions are biased by type, and this bias may favor either the minority or the majority. We characterize possible steady states, including a "glass ceiling," where the upper level remains less diverse than the entry level. A firm may have multiple steady states, whereby temporary affirmative-action policies have a long-run impact.

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Athey, Susan (MIT)
Avery, Christopher (Harvard U)
Zemsky, Peter (INSEAD, France)

JEL Classifications

J71: Labor Discrimination
J15: Economics of Minorities and Races; Non-labor Discrimination
J16: Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
J41: Labor Contracts

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