“If You’re the Only Woman or Person of Color Being Considered for a Job, You Won’t Be Hired”

“A series of studies described in a recent Harvard Business Review article indicate that having a single woman or a single person of color in the finalist pool for a job is effectively equivalent to having zero women or people of color. “If there’s only one woman in your candidate pool, there’s statistically no chance she’ll be hired,” write business professors Stefanie K. Johnson and David R. Hekman and Ph.D. candidate Elsa T. Chan.
Johnson, Hekman, and Chan suspected that since “people have a bias in favor of preserving the status quo,” they’d be more likely to select candidates who conform to the status quo — which, in most business settings, means white men…
By looking at the demographics of 598 job candidates who were finalists for academic positions at a university, the researchers found that in groups of finalists with a single non-white-male, the non-white-male had virtually no chance of being hired, regardless of how big the group of finalists was. It was as though hiring managers patted themselves on the back for being progressive enough to consider a candidate who wasn’t a white man, and then went right ahead and hired the white man they’d been planning to hire all along.
This is, needless to say, infuriating. But the silver lining of Johnson, Hekman, and Chan’s research is that putting more than one woman or person of color in your pool of job finalists improves their chances dramatically. “The odds of hiring a woman were 79.14 times greater if there were at least two women in the finalist pool,” they write. “The odds of hiring a minority were 193.72 times greater if there were at least two minority candidates in the finalist pool.””

As with many of these bleak HBR studies, I find myself unsurprised.

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