What’s in a Name?


Brad Anderson, likely a white male, would get more answers than Mei Chen, apparently a Chinese woman, the results showed. Despite a reputation for being less hospitable to women than to men, science professors were not the worst discriminators. That dubious distinction went to business professors, who were 25 percentage points less likely to respond to a woman or minority group member than to an apparent white man. Engineering and computer science professors were 13 percentage points less likely, life scientists were 11 percentage points less likely, and physical scientists were 9 percentage points less likely to respond, the research showed. Humanities professors responded to minorities and women only 5 percentage points less often than to apparently white correspondents. In an interesting reversal, fine arts professors responded to apparent women and minorities 11 percentage points more often than to apparent white men.

Despite a reputation for being less hospitable to women than to men, science professors were not the worst discriminators.

Over all, names that appeared to belong to white males prompted the best response, and apparent Asian names prompted the worst. Response rates were less equal at private institutions than they were at public institutions. “There was a 29 percentage point gap at private colleges and universities in the response rate to white men and Chinese women,” ‘s Scott Jaschik reports. “The next largest gap was a 21 percentage point gap in responses to those with an Indian male name, followed by a 19 percentage point gap for those with an Indian female name.”

The results “worry me immensely,” said Milkman, quoted by Jaschik. She also expressed great surprise at the discrimination against apparent Asians, “a serious issue that was previously not on anyone’s radar.”

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