Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=2063742
 


 



Discrimination is Not Evenly Distributed: A Field Experiment in Academia


Katherine L. Milkman


University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School

Modupe Akinola


Columbia University - Columbia Business School

Dolly Chugh


New York University (NYU) - Leonard N. Stern School of Business; New York University (NYU) - Department of Management and Organizational Behavior

January 14, 2014


Abstract:     
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, I20

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Date posted: May 22, 2012 ; Last revised: January 15, 2014

Suggested Citation

Milkman, Katherine L. and Akinola, Modupe and Chugh, Dolly, Discrimination is Not Evenly Distributed: A Field Experiment in Academia (January 14, 2014). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2063742 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2063742

Contact Information

Katherine L. Milkman (Contact Author)
University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School ( email )
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Modupe Akinola
Columbia University - Columbia Business School ( email )
3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States
Dolly Chugh
New York University (NYU) - Leonard N. Stern School of Business ( email )
44 West 4th Street
New York, NY NY 10012
United States
New York University (NYU) - Department of Management and Organizational Behavior ( email )
44 West 4th Street
New York, NY 10012
United States
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