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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Racial, Gender Bias in Mentoring

Heard on NPR Morning Edition today: the depressing results of a study done by Katherine Milkman of the Wharton School of Business and two others. The researchers emailed 6,548 faculty mentors at  258 schools pretending to be students aspiring to earn a PhD. All potential advisors received the same message; only the name of the sender was changed. NPR says the names were all different. The messages said in part "I really admire your work, would you have some time to meet?" Names were purposely chosen to distribute across racial and ethnic identities. All that was measured was how often the profs wrote back agreeing to meet with the students.

Women and minorities were less likely to get responses, relative to caucasian males, and less likely to get positive responses. Caucasian males obtained access 26% more often. Remember, the text of the messages was identical. NPR says the letters were "impeccably written."

Perhaps the most distressing results were that that the gender of the professor had no effect, according to NPR, and that the business professors discriminated the most in favor of white male names like "Brad Anderson."

Evidence Of Racial, Gender Biases Found In Faculty Mentoring [npr.org audio].



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