Change race, and watch the interview invitations flow in

This sadly isn’t surprising, given what we know of implicit bias.  But it’s a very striking demonstration of what all those CV studies have been telling us.

If you don’t believe that racism in the job market is real, then please read this article by Yolanda Spivey.  Spivey, who was seeking work in the insurance industry, found that she wasn’t getting any job offers.  But as an experiment, she changed her name to Bianca White, to see if employers would respond differently.

Thanks, J-Bro!



6 thoughts on “Change race, and watch the interview invitations flow in

  1. Um, is it weird that I’m not sure what race either name is supposed to be? I always thought it funny that two unrelated black men in my high school class had the last name “White”. “Yolanda” sounds a little black, but “Spivey” could be anything. I wouldn’t have a clear guess about the race of someone sending in either CV, so maybe it was just a fluke or not otherwise race related?

  2. Ah, I read the article. Apparently, the issue is that was apparently somehow reporting the race to employers. But isn’t that illegal?

  3. It’s not clear from the article whether it was the name change or the race change or both (probably it was both) that led to the change in job offers. Also, since this sort of general phenomena has already been documented by the CV studies alluded to, I don’t see why it’s worth wondering whether this was ‘just a fluke.’ That seems weird, to call into question whether the author was just totally misguided and wrong in her interpretation of the events she’s documenting. Even if the racial categories involved don’t seem obvious to you, why jump to the supposition that, “Hey maybe this chick doesn’t know what she’s talking about”?

    Could this have been a fluke? Ya, maybe. But given what we know from the other studies, probably not. So why is that a question worth asking in this situation?

  4. I did a similar experiment in ’98 (before I came to philosophy). I was applying for jobs in a technical field, one in which there were very few women. I sent out 50 resumes with my first and last name – my first name revealing that I was a woman. I got 1 interview. Two months later I sent out an identical resume but with my first initial and last name to the same 50 places. I got 10 interviews. Anecdotal, yes. Fluke, maybe – but I doubt it. Too bad I can’t hide my gender with tenure track philosophy jobs!

  5. Stacey, for just that reason I was wondering why it was worth posting the OP. As you say, we know all about this already.
    I guess if the OP was worth posting, then questions about whether it really illustrates what it seems to illustrate are worth raising.

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