A 'white' name fares better, study says


Published: Wednesday, January 15, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 15, 2003 at 12:42 a.m.
CHICAGO - It helps to have a white-sounding first name when looking for work, a new study has found.
Resumes with white-sounding first names elicited 50 percent more responses than ones with black-sounding names, according to a study by professors at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The professors sent about 5,000 resumes in response to want ads in The Boston Globe and Chicago Tribune. They found that the "white" applicants they created received one response - a call, letter or e-mail - for every 10 resumes mailed, while "black" applicants with equal credentials received one response for every 15 resumes sent.
The study authors, including University of Chicago associate professor of economics Marianne Bertrand, said the results can solely be attributed to name manipulation.
"Our results so far suggest that there is a substantial amount of discrimination in the job recruiting process," they wrote.
The professors analyzed birth certificates in coming up with what names to use. The white names included Neil, Brett, Greg, Emily, Anne and Jill. Some of the black names used were Tamika, Ebony, Aisha, Rasheed, Kareem and Tyrone.
Companies that purported to be equal opportunity employers were no more likely to respond to black resumes than other businesses, the study found.
Carolyn Nordstrom, president of Chicago United, a group that seeks to increase corporate diversity, said the study shows the need to educate those that make hiring decisions.
"We like to believe that this has changed, but this is evidence that it hasn't," she said.

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