A randomised experiment to test for gender discrimination

1. Booth and Leigh found a pro-female bias in callbacks only in occupations in which the percentage of females is 80 percent or more. For less female-dominated occupations, we find no significant bias towards either sex, in contrast to Riach and Rich (2006). In a London-based field experiment, Riach and Rich (2006) found statistically significant discrimination against men in ‘mixed’ occupations (trainee accountants, 31 percent female; and computer analyst/programmers, 21 percent female) and in ‘female’ occupations (secretarial, 97 percent female).

2. For waitstaff and data-entry positions, gender differences in callback rates were very large, while for customer service and sales positions they were much smaller. For example, a male wishing to work as a waiter would have to submit 31 percent more applications to receive the same number of callbacks, while a male seeking work as a data-entry employee would have to submit 74 percent more applications. By contrast, the ratio of female callbacks to male callbacks is just 1.10 for customer service, and 1.04 for sales.

3. Neumark et. al. and Weichselbaumer (2004) consider the possibility that personality traits, rather than discrimination, might be the explanation for differential treatment.

I think they are onto something here about personality traits. Women have systematically better average scores on conscientiousness, extraversion and reading skills. In consequence, in occupations where these traits are valued and contribute to the bottom line, employers that call back more women survive in competition longer than those not.

Remember, Pager, Devah. 2016. “Are Firms that Discriminate More Likely to Go Out of Business?” Sociological Science (September):849-859. found that discriminating firms were twice as likely to have failed six years later.

Andrew Leigh's Archived Blog 2004-2010

Alison Booth and I have a new paper out, in which we test for gender discrimination in hiring by randomly sending fake CVs to apply for jobs in female-dominated occupations (waitstaff, data-entry, customer service, and sales). These occupations are about 70-80% female.

We find a modest bias in favour of female applicants. Resumes with a female name get a callback 32% of the time, while those with a male name get a callback 25% of the time.

The paper is forthcoming in Economics Letters, so it’s very short. Here’s the abstract. To get the full paper, just click on the title.

Do Employers Discriminate by Gender? A Field Experiment in Female-Dominated Occupations
Alison Booth & Andrew Leigh
We test for gender discrimination by sending fake CVs to apply for entry-level jobs. Female candidates are more likely to receive a callback, with the difference being largest in occupations that are…

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About Jim Rose

Utopia - you are standing in it promotes a classical liberal view of the world and champion the mass flourishing of humanity through capitalism and the rule of law. The origin of the blog is explained in the first blog post at https://utopiayouarestandinginit.wordpress.com/2014/03/12/why-call-my-blog-utopia-you-are-standing-in-it/

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