A new study by S. Michael Gaddis, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Michigan School of Public Health who will begin teaching at Pennsylvania State University this coming fall, finds that African Americans who graduate from high-ranking colleges and universities have little or no advantage in the job market over White students who graduate from educational institutions that are not as highly regarded.
Dr. Gaddis, who earned a Ph.D. in sociology at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, sent in more than 1,000 job applications that were identical except names were used to signify to the employer that the applicant was either Black or White. For example, he used names such as Ebony, Shanice, and DaQuan so that the employer would guess that the applicant was Black and names such as Erica, Charlie, and Caleb so the employer would infer the applicant was White. He also said that some applicants were from elite schools such as Stanford, Duke, or Harvard while others were graduates of less selective state universities.
The results showed that White applicants from an elite university received a response from employers 18 percent of the time. Blacks from the same elite universities received a response from 13 percent of the employers, only slightly more than Whites from the less selective state universities. Blacks who were graduates of the state universities receive far fewer responses than Whites from the same state universities.
“These racial differences suggest that a bachelor’s degree, even from an elite institution, cannot fully counteract the importance of race in the labor market,” said Dr. Gaddis. “Education apparently has its limits because even a Harvard degree cannot make DaQuan as enticing as Charlie to employers.”
The full report, “Discrimination in the Credential Society: An Audit Study of Race and College Selectivity in the Labor Market,” was published in the journal Social Forces. It may be accessed here.