Firms often ask supervisors to appraise subordinates' potential to succeed in higher-level positions. These appraisals can take place within social and organizational contexts that emphasize improving the experiences of females in male-dominated settings. Using this context, we experimentally examine whether supervisors differentially interpret and use the same accounting information when appraising the potential of subordinates of different genders. We draw on attribution theory and research suggesting that a diversity emphasis sends two conflicting signals—females are less able than males, but more valuable from a diversity standpoint. We find that supervisors' beliefs about subordinates' abilities in their current positions are lower for female than male subordinates. While prior research suggests this should result in supervisors appraising female subordinates' potential as lower than males', we find the opposite. Our results suggest that firm efforts to improve the workplace experiences of females may do little to mitigate underlying gender stereotypes.

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