Stories of hiring discrimination are common, and data has long shown that white males fare better than African Americans and women when it comes to getting callbacks for interviews. But how do these trends affect the jobseeking process?
Researchers David S. Pedulla — an assistant professor at the Department of Sociology & Population Research Center at University of Texas at Austin — and Devah Pager, a sociology professor at Harvard University, recently conducted a study to find out. It’s called Race, Self-Selection, and the Job Search Process, and in a summary for the website The Conversation, they highlight three of the more interesting findings. They are as follows:
1. Relative to Whites, Blacks Cast a Wider Net — Controlling for education and work experience, Pedulla and Pager found that black survey respondents tended to apply for a greater number of distinct jobs than whites. According to the researchers, this strategy increases the chances of getting hired but leads to lower-wage jobs. The result: Blacks make gains in terms of reducing the employment gap but struggle to erase wage disparities.
2. Women Stick to Traditionally Female-Oriented Fields — According to the researchers, female jobseekers respond to discrimination very differently than African Americans. Rather than hedging their bets by applying for all sorts of positions, they stick to opportunities “consistent with historically gendered job types, such as office and administrative support positions,” as Pedulla and Pager write. The reason may be that careers in America are very much segregated by gender, and while there aren’t necessarily “black jobs” and “white jobs,” there are some vocations closely associated with men and women. Although the strategy is different, the result is the same: an earnings gap that persists over time.
3. Blacks Who’ve Faced Discrimination Are More Likely to Cast Wide — Through their surveys, Pedulla and Pager found that blacks who’ve experienced racial discrimination tend to cast wider when applying for jobs.
The bottom line, Pedulla and Clark say, is that we need to take a closer look at how discrimination affects both the hiring and the job-search process, since the latter “plays an important role in shaping, reinforcing and sometimes counteracting inequality in the labor market.”