Measuring employment discrimination through controlled experiments
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Race/ethnic discrimination in hiring can be measured under controlled conditions using matched pairs of minority and nonminority research assistants posing as applicants for the same job. In 149 inperson job applications in the Washington, D.C., labor market, African American applicants were treated less favorab ly than equally qualified nonminorities more than one-fifth of the time. Employer behavior during these interactions suggest that, within continued public and private efforts against discrimination, particular attention should be accorded to the cognitive underpinnings of bias.
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- Annual Report, 1990–1992 (Washington: Fair Employment Council of Greater Washington, Inc., 1993);Employment Testing Manual (Washington: Fair Employment Council of Greater Washington, Inc., 1993). The same techniques are also applicable to demographic characteristics other than race and ethnicity. For example, using pairs of applicants age 32 and 57, testing has been applied to hiring discrimination based on age; see Marc Bendick, Jr., Charles Jackson, and Horacio Romero,Employment Discrimination Against Older Workers: An Experimental Study of Hiring Practices (Washington: Fair Employment Council of Greater Washington, 1993).
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- The sources for Table 2 are the same as for Table 1 (see Footnote 10). James and DelCastillo,We May be Making Progress, report a testing study in the Denver labor market that estimated a two percent net rate of discrimination against African Americans compared to whites but a ten percent rate in favor of Hispanics over Anglos. These results are contaminated by methodological flaws, including inappropriate pairing of testers, inadequate supervision of field work, and compensation arrangements giving minority testers greater incentives to pursue job openings than nonminorities. These flaws led to differences in the level of effort expended by paired testers (e.g, different numbers of follow-up calls) and also raised general concerns about data validity and reliability; see Michael Fix and Raymond Struyk, eds.,Clear and Convincing Evidence: Measurement of Discrimination in America (Washington: Urban Institute Press, 1993), appendix. Accordingly, this study is not included in Table 2.
- These examples, all involving African Americans, are drawn from FEC,Annual Report, pp. 5-6. Comparable incidents involving Latinos are presented in Bendick et al., “Discrimination Against Latinos,” p.475.
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- See Footnote 14.
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- Thomas,Beyond Race and Gender; Jackson,Diversity; Egan and Bendick,Managing. Several social psychological studies have found that, in laboratory simulations of employment selections, individuals often discriminated in favor of minorities [Arvey and Campion, “The Employment Interview”; Braddock and McPartland, “How Minorities”]. These results contrast with the findings of testing studies involving actual job selections in firms. To understand this contrast, further research is needed to differentiate between discrimination reflecting the attitudes of individual staff members and that reflecting the policies and organizational culture of the firms that employ them.
- Measuring employment discrimination through controlled experiments
The Review of Black Political Economy
Volume 23, Issue 1 , pp 25-48
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