Discrimination is Not Evenly Distributed: A Field Experiment in Academia
Katherine L. Milkman
University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School
Columbia University - Columbia Business School
New York University (NYU) - Leonard N. Stern School of Business; New York University (NYU) - Department of Management and Organizational Behavior
January 14, 2014
Although bias against women and minorities has been documented in various organizational contexts, little is known about how this bias varies within and between organizations. We address this question through an audit study set in academia including over 6,500 professors at top U.S. universities drawn from 89 disciplines and 259 institutions. Tenure-track professors were contacted by prospective doctoral students seeking a meeting to discuss research opportunities. Names of students were randomly assigned to signal gender and race (Caucasian, Black, Hispanic, Indian, Chinese), but messages were otherwise identical. We find that find that discrimination is not evenly distributed across academic disciplines and faculty ignored requests from women and minorities at a higher rate than requests from White males, particularly in business, education, human services, engineering and computer sciences, life sciences, and the natural/physical sciences and math. Additionally, bias was more extreme in higher paying academic disciplines and private institutions (which pay higher salaries). Counter-intuitively, our work reveals that representation of women and minorities and bias are surprisingly uncorrelated, suggesting that when an organization achieves greater representation of minorities and women, this cannot be assumed to eliminate or even necessarily reduce bias. We supplement our findings with a survey study replicating our discovery that bias against women and minorities is more extreme among higher income individuals. This research helps to advance our understanding of the barriers that may stand in the way of equal treatment toward women and minorities in organizations.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 48
Keywords: discrimination, race, gender, academia, field experiment, audit study
JEL Classification: D03, J71, I20working papers series
Date posted: May 22, 2012 ; Last revised: January 15, 2014
© 2014 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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