Discrimination in the Academy: A Field Experiment
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
October 29, 2013
Women and minorities remain underrepresented in faculty positions across nearly all academic disciplines despite efforts to bolster their numbers. Although bias against women and minorities has been documented in academia, little is known about which academic disciplines exhibit bias. We address this question through a field experiment in which 6,548 tenure-track professors at 259 top U.S. universities in 109 different PhD-granting disciplines 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. Faculty ignored requests from women and minorities at a higher rate than requests from White males, indicating that bias exists in business, education, human services, engineering and computer sciences, life sciences, and the natural/physical sciences and math. Furthermore, bias against women and minorities was worse in higher-paying disciplines and at private institutions, but uncorrelated with the representation of women or minorities in a discipline or university. These results point to the importance of tackling discrimination in the Academy, particularly in disciplines where it impedes career opportunities, if the goal of increasing diversity and ensuring that academia is a meritocracy is to be achieved.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 72
Keywords: discrimination, race, gender, academia, field experiment, audit study
JEL Classification: D03, J71, I20working papers series
Date posted: May 22, 2012 ; Last revised: October 30, 2013
© 2013 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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