The Bias for White Men

Scott Jaschik:

A survey of more than 6,000 faculty members, across a range of disciplines, has found that when prospective graduate students reach out for guidance, white males are the most likely to get attention. The survey also found that public university faculty members are much more likely than their private counterparts to respond equally to students of varying backgrounds. And the greatest victims of discrimination may be those with names that suggest they are Chinese women.

The study (abstract available here) — just released by the Social Science Research Network — aims to identify whether academics create pathways for students of all kinds who want to enter graduate school.

For the study, three researchers sent faculty members letters (as would-be grad students), expressing interest in talking about research opportunities in the program, becoming a graduate student and learning about the professor’s work. The letters asked for a 10-minute discussion. The letters were identical in every way except for the names of the fictional people sending them (see text at bottom of article).