Study Finds Women and Minority Doctoral Candidates May Face Faculty Discrimination

A new study published on the website of the journal Psychological Science, finds that women and minorities are still subjected to discrimination in the academic world. The research team, led by Dr. Katherine L. Milkman at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, sent emails from fictional doctorate students to 6,500 professors at 258 colleges and universities. The emails requested a meeting either that day or in the next week.

Prospective doctoral students with Caucasian sounding male names were 26 percent more likely to be granted an interview for the next week than candidates with names that indicated they were minorities or women. However, for those emails that requested an interview for that day, there was no gender or racial/ethnic difference in those granted appointments.

Modupe Akinola

The authors believe that requests for interviews on that particular day were processed by the professors under the context of whether they have the time and whether it is convenient for them to meet. But in decisions about meetings a week later, the professors were more apt to make their decision on whether the meeting would be worthwhile. The authors conclude that professors who focused on the desirability of a meeting were more likely to discriminate against women and minorities than professors who were more focused on the logistics of meeting that particular day.

The article, which was coauthored by Modupe Akinola of Columbia Business School and Dolly Chugh of the Stern School of Business at New York University, can be accessed here.

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  1. You do not need an e-mail study to tell you that. Just speak to the few African American faculty at our higher education institutions and ask them about their experiences. Now couple that with the way the current graduate students feel and you get a complete picture. I know that from my own experiences I was often ignored or given the “just to busy” message when I wanted to meet with faculty. It has happened at professional meetings. I won’t say who it was but it was from one of the professors from the same institution where this study was conducted. The scars still remain.

    • Right. They waste time with these ‘studies’. You can read statistics on multiple National sites about employee/faculty hiring, tenure status, and student demographics. There are major gaps in access and progression of both ‘minority’ student and faculty. African American and Spanish-speaking Brown peoples do not fare well in the Ivory Towers across the US.

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