What is a dual queueing process?

The most fruitful model sees occupational composition as the result of a dual-queueing process: labor queues order groups of workers in terms of their attractiveness to employers, and job queues rank jobs in terms of their attractiveness to workers (Kindle Locations 426-428).

In whatever field or industry examined, the gender or racial composition of the individuals composing it are a result of labor queues. Everyone involved in the field ranks potential jobs. Let’s take television production.

Job Queues

Anyone with an idea for a show must look at potential channels that will air it. Some channels, like HBO, will rank high on everyone’s list. There is only so much programming that HBO can afford and that they need to comprise their schedule. Thus, there are more people who want their shows on HBO than it needs. HBO can be picky and choose only the best shows that are pitched. The individuals who are rejected by HBO must pitch their shows to another channel that ranked lower (less desirable) on their list of potential channels. The important point about job queues is that they result from the perceptions of potential employees (or show creators) concerning the status of a job (or channel). Everyone perceives Harvard as one of the best colleges in the U.S. Most people will not attempt sending in an application because the chances of being accepted are so slim. Harvard still has more applications than it could possibly admit, and this surplus in applications allows it to be choosy.

Labor Queues

Labor queues are different in that they reflect the perception by employers, organizations, television channels or even colleges of applicants. Back to the television example, HBO has certain criteria that will make it more or less likely to greenlight a show. Does the show creator have experience creating a show? Have they worked in film? Are they well known? What genre would the show be? Would it mesh well with other shows in the schedule? All of these questions determine whether HBO will even hear the pitch.

Harvard likely has a GPA that all applicants should meet because Harvard has decided that this GPA is indicative of college success. This GPA will drop lower and lower as the prestige of the school drops. All applicants to Harvard below that GPA are likely dismissed from the very beginning unless they have some redeeming attribute that Harvard weighs more than high school performance. Such attributes are being related to an alumnus or being the son or daughter of a U.S. senator. All the applicants who barely meet the GPA requirement are placed at the back of the queue and are the least desirable from Harvard’s perspective. The least desirable to Harvard will likely be seen as very desirable at their state university.

Dual Queues

The final composition of the labor market, television show creators, or college enrollment is the result of the interaction between perceptions of attributes. Queues result when the perceptions do not mesh. Let’s say I have a 2.0 GPA and perceive Harvard as a perfect fit for me. Harvard receives my application, and they perceive me as someone who is not disciplined nor dedicated to my performance in school. I may have worked very very hard for that 2.0 with a very structured study schedule. It won’t matter to Harvard because they don’t see a 2.0 applicant as having a high probability of success if enrolled. They also consider a 2.0 as academically inferior. Accepting my application would reflect poorly on Harvard and “water down” the high concentration of 4.0 students. This “watering down” would then be perceived by society and would be reflected in less qualified applicants perceiving Harvard as a possibility and applying. It would also be reflected in fewer 4.0 applicants wanting to go to Harvard. Harvard is able to maintain its status because it receives many more applications than it can admit, and these applicants are usually pretty well qualified.


Works cited

 Creating Gender Queues

I’m completing my thesis at the University of Mississippi concerning the relationship between gender, genre, and television production. I see no harm in sharing while helping to get my thoughts together.

Barbara Reskin describes how men dominate coveted labor markets at the expense of women. Labor markets become gender queues where women are held back in five ways.

First, sex labels that characterize jobs as “women’s” or “men’s” work influence day-to-day hiring and job assignments by affecting employers’ notions of appropriate and inappropriate workers for particular jobs. The force of custom tends to blind employers to economically irrational decisions, at least until external events galvanize them to change (Kindle Locations 508-510).

One issue facing women is the weight of history where they have been undervalued relative to men. We are not damned to repeat that history,  but generally speaking we will if there are not laws created to force change. Because women have been kept out of many professions until fairly recently, they are untraditional employees which means employers usually will not go that route unless they set out to do so.

Second, employers’ difficulty in identifying productive workers leads them to resort to proxies such as educational attainment, experience, and group membership (Kindle Locations 510-511).

Because employers have a difficult time spotting job candidates who will do well, they tend to rely on shortcuts that discount women. Proxies hurt anyone who do not have an ideal job history (like myself) with periods of unemployment. But each proxy tends to hurt women at a greater rate than men as women are less likely to be given the opportunities that men receive.

Third, some employers worry that male workers’ negative response to female interlopers will reduce productivity or raise labor costs by increasing turnover, or lead men to demand higher wages to compensate them for working with women (Kindle Locations 514-515).

Men are sensitive about their masculinity.  Any threats to the gender composition in a field that could change how it is perceived within society is met with resistance by men. They will go on strike or leave the job if it seems beneath them.

Fourth, some employers are not compelled to minimize wages. The level of competition they face and the share of all costs that wages constitute affect their incentive to find ways to cut wages (Kindle Locations 521-522).

The primary advantage women have in labor markets is that they cost less to employ.  When labor costs are trivial, women job candidates have less of a chance in being hired.

Finally, some employers willingly accept higher wages as the price for favoring men (Kindle Location 527).

To employers, hiring men at higher wages is better than paying less for women to do the job as it protects the job from having its status depreciate, and it legitimizes male dominance elsewhere throughout society. Employers seem willing to pay more to lessen their doubt even though that doubt is based on sexist assumptions regarding the quality of work performed by women.

Works cited