Claude S. Fischer reflects on research on racial discrimination and hiring practices, noting a recent study that found “applications with typically white names were notably likelier to get responses [from employers] than those with typically black ones.” He considers a recent study by sociologist S. Michael Gaddis that “explicitly looks at whether racial discrimination is mitigated when job candidates clearly have sterling credentials. The answer is no”:
Gaddis targeted online job listings, analyzing employer responses to about 1800 realistic job applications that he e-mailed. For example, Gaddis used actual home addresses. He systematically varied several candidate attributes. One was race, indicated by first names that tend to be more common among blacks versus whites—e.g., Lamar v. Charlie; Nia v. Aubrey. The key innovation he introduced was the prestige of the college that the applicant had presumably graduated from (with honors)—Harvard v. U. Mass., Amherst; Stanford v. the University of California, Riverside; and Duke v. UNC, Greensboro.
“Applicants” from the elite colleges received an answer 1.7 times more often than those from less elite colleges (15 percent versus 9 percent). White-named “applicants” received an answer 1.5 times as often as black-named ones (15 percent versus 10 percent). The results suggest that having a typically white rather than a typically black name is worth about as much as graduating from an elite rather than a good college. Importantly, the racial factor is probably underestimated, given that employers have to read those names as racially distinctive for them to matter, a reading which is not as obvious as college prestige. Even among the elite-college “applicants,” race made a substantial difference. Looked at another way, black-named “applicants” from elite colleges were about as likely to get a follow-up as white-named “applicants” from non-elite colleges.
Previous Dish on attitudes toward black names here.