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Tag: employment discrimination

Ethnic job discrimination in the Netherlands

I have more than one reason to care about job discrimination based on ethnicity in the Netherlands. A new study shows that there is plenty to worry about. In short, the researchers sent identical job applications varying only the name – Dutch vs. ethnic (Antillean, Surinamese, Turkish, Moroccan). The ‘Dutch’ applicants had a higher chance of being invited for a job interview. The effect is rather small in size (5-8 percentage points), but is robust and statistically significant. Furthermore, discrimination is greater for ethnic males (20 percentage points), and for the lower-educated. This study investigates ethnic discrimination in the Dutch labor market, using field experiments. Two thousand eighty applications were sent to 1340 job vacancies; one applicant had a Dutch-sounding name, the other a name that signaled immigrant descent. Our aims were (a) to test for the persistence of discrimination in the Dutch labor market; (b) to study the interactions of ethnic background with job characteristics; (c) to study the complexity of discrimination against a background of multiple group membership. Results indicate that discrimination continues to be a problem in selection procedures. Interactions with job characteristics and multiple group membership are discussed. [full text (gated) here] Andriessen, Iris, Eline Nievers, Jaco Dagevos, and Laila Faulk. “Ethnic Discrimination in the Dutch Labor Market: Its Relationship with Job Characteristics and Multiple Group Membership.” Work and Occupations 39, no. 3 (2012): 237-69.  

Social science in the courtroom

Everyone who is interested in the sociology of science, causal inferences from observational data, employment gender discrimination, judicial sagas, or academic spats should read the latest issue of Sociological Methods & Research. The whole issue is devoted to the Wal-Mart Stores,Inc. v. Dukes et al. case – “the largest class-action employment discrimination suit in history”, with a focus on the uses of social science evidence in the courtroom.  The focal point of contestation is the report of Dr. Bielby – an expert for the plaintiff. In a nutshell, the report says that the gender bias in promotion decisions at Wal-Mart can be attributed to the lack of efforts to create a strong corporate culture and limit the discretion managers have in promotion decisions, which in turn allows for biased decisions. The evidence is mostly 1) a literature review that supports the causal links between corporate policies and corporate culture, corporate culture and individual behavior, discretion and biased individual behavior, and corporate policies and outcomes, and 2) description of the corporate policies and culture at Wal-Mart which points to a relatively weak policy towards gender discrimination and considerable discretion for managers in promotion decisions. Dr. Bielby describes the method as follows: “…look at distinctive features of the firm’s policies and practices and … evaluate them against what social scientific research shows to be factors that create and sustain bias and those that minimize bias” [the method is designated as “social framework analysis”]. What gives the case broader significance (apart from the fact that it directly concerns between half a million and a million and a half…