Disentangling the effects of race and class on the social mobility of black Americans is one of sociology’s important jobs. A new study by S. Michael Gaddis is a nice contribution.
Gaddis sent resumes to 1,008 jobs in three parts of the United States. Some of these fictional job applicants carried degrees from an elite university: Stanford, Harvard, or Duke. Some had names that suggested a white applicant (e.g., Charlie or Erica) and others names that suggested a black applicant (e.g., Lamar or Shanice).
Both phone and email inquiries from people with white-sounding names elicited a response more often than those from black-sounding names. Overall, white-sounding candidates were 1.5 times more likely than black-sounding candidates to get a response from an employer. The relationship held up when other variables were controlled for with logistic regression.
Gaddis goes on to show that when employers did respond to candidates with black-sounding names, it was for less prestigious jobs that pay less.
Comparing applicants who are black and white and have elite vs. more middle-of-the-road university degrees, blacks with elite degrees were only slightly more likely than whites with less impressive degrees to get a call back. As is typically found in studies like these, members of subordinated groups have to outperform the superordinated to see the same benefit.
H/t Philip Cohen.
Lisa Wade, PhD is an Associate Professor at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming introductory text: Terrible Magnificent Sociology. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
Bill R — January 29, 2015
While these results would have likely been far worse 30-40 years ago, they're still pretty bad and we've got a long way to go. But you've ultimately got a dog-bites-man story with this. We get it.
The sad part is that an unfortunate message to black people gets communicated when this kind of research is presented independently of other findings, i.e., don't bother with education--you won't be accepted anyway. That's a shame because study after study shows that all men and women with college degrees are treated better in the workplace, regardless of race.
The elephant in the corner of most studies on employment--race, nationality, gender, etc.--is education. Nothing else has such a strong effect and highlighting the rest without commenting on education is kinda misleading.
keepit100folks — January 30, 2015
Good. Us honkies are also more likely to pay for our schooling. I have massive student loan debt so I'm hoping I can bank on at least SOME white privilege. haha
Also, is more impressive only gauged as "prestigious"/known name univ.? If so, not. good.
ViktorNN — January 30, 2015
Since I can't review the study because it's behind a paywall, I'm wondering whether this survey takes into account government jobs where, at the federal level at least, blacks are over-represented (and whites are under-represented, believe it or not!)
I also wonder whether it takes into account jobs with companies that have affirmative action/pro-diversity policies - they seem pretty common among Fortune 500 corporations these days.
It seems like a more revealing and useful study would identify what kinds of businesses and what sectors of the economy are practicing employment discrimination the most. It's safe to say that it's not government and probably not large corporations with affirmative action/pro-diversity policies.
FreeVersion — February 2, 2015
See http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2386677 for a recent and free version.
Sherri — February 4, 2015
Copy edit: The results indicate that "white-sounding candidates were 1.5 times AS likely" or "50% more likely" to receive a response, not "1.5 times more likely."
Irallint — April 8, 2020
Actually it's really sounds very sad. I think that every company should look at proficiency and human skills but not at color of skin or name. When at university I needed to write a coursework about racism in nowadays and it was hard for me to read such information. So I as always buy college research paper and trying to help my friends which have another color of skin,if I can help.
Smith Leo — November 26, 2020
Good Post I like it
anderson — November 26, 2020
Matched to black and white candidates who are elite via more middle-of-the-road university programs, blacks with elite degrees are slightly more likely than white people with less impressive degrees to get the call back. Find out about ukwritings now. As seen in studies such as these, members of rescue groups have to succeed the authority to see the same benefit.
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