Minority candidates, including white women, with 4.0 GPAs who apply for jobs in STEM fields are treated the same as white male candidates with 3.75 GPAs, according to new research from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Researchers say it is just one of several examples of unconscious bias in the interview process.
For their paper, business economics and public policy professors Judd B. Kessler and Corinne Low and doctoral student Colin D. Sullivan asked hiring managers to knowingly review and rate 40 fake resumes.
Attention was given to the employer’s interest in a particular candidate, as well as how likely the managers thought they would be able to recruit the individual (i.e., their ‘get-ability.’)
The ratings from the fake resumes were then used to match the companies with real candidates from a database of authentic CVs from University of Pennsylvania students.
Employers hiring in humanities and social science-related fields did not rate female and/or minority candidates lower-than-average, but STEM recruiters rated them “significantly” lower. The paper’s authors credit the discrepancy to unconscious bias.
Employers across the board gave minority candidates less credit for having participated in a prestigious internship, and they were rated lower in “get-ability.”
A breakdown of the hiring managers used in the study was not provided, so it’s not clear if they were predominantly male or female. It’s also not clear if the people who reviewed the resumes were predominantly white.
The researchers say they hope the findings will help organizations identify and eradicate unconscious bias.
The paper, “Incentivized Resume Rating: Eliciting Employer Preferences without Deception,” will be published in the journal American Economic Review in the near future.