Title: What’s in a name? Study shows that workplace discrimination begins long before the job seeker shows up for an interview
Dr. Marianne Bertrand, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago, and Dr. Sendhil Mullainathan, MacArthur-winning associate professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, have made a significant contribution to the research literature with their new study, “Are Emily and Brendan More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination.”
With names chosen from birth records in Chicago and Boston, the researchers crafted sets of resumes–some of higher quality, some of lower–labeled them with either “White-sounding” or “Black-sounding” names and sent nearly 5,000 of them out in response to 1,300 jobs advertised in the Chicago and Boston papers.
The response from colleagues as they designed their deceptively simple study was, “‘Oh, yes, you’ll find a discrimination effect, a reverse discrimination effect,'” Bertrand says.
Instead, they found that resumes with “White-sounding” names–like Jay, Brad, Carrie and Kristen–were 50 percent more likely than those with “Black-sounding” names to receive a callback. The results were striking, holding both for jobs at the lower end of the spectrum–cashier and mailroom clerk positions–and for those at the executive level. Put another way, a White job seeker would have to send out at least 10 resumes to receive a single contact from a potential employer. A Black candidate, meanwhile, would have to send out 15–and this in a “soft” economy with a relatively low rate of new job creation.