Evidence of Sex and Race Bias In Faculty Response Rates to Email Inquiries From Prospective Graduate Students
Wow, this is interesting, surprising, and alarming: link
The study measured responses, of 6,500 professors across 250 of the U.S.’s top schools, to email messages sent by “students,” impersonated by the researchers. The messages expressed admiration for the professor’s research, and requested a meeting. All messages had the same content and were well written, but varied in that they were sent from a variety of “people” with names typically associated with specific racial categories. For example, names like Brad Anderson and Meredith Roberts would typically be assumed to belong to white people, whereas names like Lamar Washinton and LaToya Brown would be assumed to belong to black students. Other names included those associated with Latino/a, Indian, and Chinese students.Normally, I'm extremely skeptical of studies claiming to identify bias in academia. There's a huge number of people who are religiously dedicated to "finding" bias in academia...and many of them routinely see (i.e. "see") it where it doesn't exist. No one is more skeptical than about the biasmongers than me...
Vedantam additionally reported that the study found that Asian students experienced the most bias, that gender and racial diversity amongst faculty does not reduce discrimination, and that there are big differences between academic departments and types of schools. The researchers found greater discrimination at private schools, and amongst the natural sciences and business schools, and overwhelmingly found that as faculty pay rises, so too does the occurrence of discrimination. Not included in Vedantam’s report are some important details about the findings, and the design of the study that make the results even more disturbing and significant. At business schools, women and minorities were ignored more than twice as frequently as were white males, and even within the humanities, which Vedantam reported had “little discrimination,” women and racial minorities were ignored 1.3 more times than white males.
This study is so simple, so seemingly straightforward, that it's rather hard to see where it could have gone wrong. Needless to say, some absurdly extravagant claims have been made about what it shows. But ignore those. Imagine that the real effect is, say, 1/2 or 1/3 what they think they found... That's still astonishing--and unconscionable.
Since I rarely encounter this sort of thing, I suppose I tend to think that things are better than they really are. (And, of course, I see lunatics crying "wolf!" about bias all too often...) But damn, this is shocking.
And lets not forget about the even more baffling and alarming Moss-Racusin study that showed sex bias in biology