Is It Legitimate Statistics or Is It Sexism: Why Discrimination Is Not Rational
While in the ideal world, everyone should have the same chance to succeed in a given profession, in reality, often the probability of success is different for people of different gender and/or ethnicity. For example, in the US, the probability of a female undergraduate student in computer science to get a PhD is lower than a similar probability for a male student. At first glance, it may seem that in such a situation, if we try to maximize our gain and we have a limited amount of resources, it is reasonable to concentrate on students with the higher probability of success – i.e., on males, and only moral considerations prevent us from pursuing this seemingly economically optimal discriminatory strategy. In this paper, we show that this first impression is wrong: the discriminatory strategy is not only morally wrong, it is also not optimal – and the morally preferable inclusive strategy is actually also economically better.
This work was supported in part by the National Science Foundation grant HRD-1242122 (Cyber-ShARE Center of Excellence).