Top Professors In the US May Not Treat You Equally If You’re A Woman or Minority

Posted on May 6 2014 - 4:26am by Jamie Sterling

Recently, a group of researchers ran a field experiment. They sent the same, well-written letter to top professors across top universities in the US. The letters praised the professors and requested a meeting to learn more about them and their work.

“They emailed more than 6,500 professors at the top 250 schools pretending to be the students. And they wrote letters saying, I really admire your work. Would you have some time to meet? The letters to the faculty were all identical, but the names of the students were all different. […] Brad Anderson. Meredith Roberts. Lamar Washington. LaToya Brown. Juanita Martinez. Deepak Patel, Sonali Desai, Chang Wong, Mei Chen. […]

All they were measuring was how often professors wrote back agreeing to meet with the students. And what they found was there were very large disparities. Women and minorities [were] systematically less likely to get responses from the professors and also less likely to get positive responses from the professors. Now remember, these are top faculty at the top schools in the United States and the letters were all impeccably written.”

This is very interesting to me as a career-driven woman. It also shows that my parents were “with it” when they picked my name. They anticipated that this could still be an issue as I grew up and went to work. So, my parents gave me a name (Jamie) that allowed me to not be immediately judged as a woman.  I wonder whether that helped me upon first virtual introduction or resumé submission to jobs… 

Food for thought.

Here is more detailed information on the experiment.


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