Good demographics

Kevin Lewis

August 22, 2019

Testing the Theory of Consumer Discrimination as an Explanation for the Lack of Minority Hiring in Hollywood Films
Venkat Kuppuswamy & Peter Younkin
Management Science, forthcoming

The underrepresentation of minorities in cultural industries is a widely publicized problem with far-reaching economic and social significance. It is also one of many industries in which employers suggest that the locus of bias is not within the organization but with the consumer. The empirical challenge of relating consumer behavior to employee composition has constrained prior efforts to test their claim and to test the theory of consumer discrimination more broadly. As a result, employers have gradually expanded the scope of the customer discrimination theory from one rooted in direct interaction to include an aversion to simply seeing employees of a different ethnicity. We explore how consumers respond to employee composition by evaluating the performance of films released in the United States as a function of the racial diversity of their cast. We find that films with a single black actor do not differ from those with zero black actors, and that films with multiple black actors in the principal cast actually achieve significantly higher domestic box-office revenues than either. To distinguish between competing explanations for this result, we conduct a vignette-based experiment that allows us to identify a positive influence of diversity on consumers’ assessments of quality, controlling for differences in film or actor appeal. Collectively, these results help discredit one rationale for unequal hiring in cultural industries and also suggest an important qualification to the theory of consumer discrimination: in settings where employee race is visible but the consumer is physically distant, diversity is more profitable than costly.

Race influences professional investors’ financial judgments
Sarah Lyons-Padilla et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Of the $69.1 trillion global financial assets under management across mutual funds, hedge funds, real estate, and private equity, fewer than 1.3% are managed by women and people of color. Why is this powerful, elite industry so racially homogenous? We conducted an online experiment with actual asset allocators to determine whether there are biases in their evaluations of funds led by people of color, and, if so, how these biases manifest. We asked asset allocators to rate venture capital funds based on their evaluation of a 1-page summary of the fund’s performance history, in which we manipulated the race of the managing partner (White or Black) and the strength of the fund’s credentials (stronger or weaker). Asset allocators favored the White-led, racially homogenous team when credentials were stronger, but the Black-led, racially diverse team when credentials were weaker. Moreover, asset allocators’ judgments of the team’s competence were more strongly correlated with predictions about future performance (e.g., money raised) for racially homogenous teams than for racially diverse teams. Despite the apparent preference for racially diverse teams at weaker performance levels, asset allocators did not express a high likelihood of investing in these teams. These results suggest first that underrepresentation of people of color in the realm of investing is not only a pipeline problem, and second, that funds led by people of color might paradoxically face the most barriers to advancement after they have established themselves as strong performers.

The beauty myth: Prescriptive beauty norms for women reflect hierarchy-enhancing motivations leading to discriminatory employment practices
Leeat Ramati-Ziber, Nurit Shnabel & Peter Glick
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

We proposed that the Prescriptive Beauty Norm (PBN), the injunctive demand for women to intensively pursue beauty, reflects motives to maintain gender hierarchy and translates into employment discrimination. In Studies 1a and 1b, the PBN (distinct from other “beauty myth” [Wolf, 1990] components; namely, bodily and grooming standards, and attainability beliefs) uniquely correlated with hierarchy-supporting values and ideologies. In Study 2, experimentally threatening (vs. affirming) gender hierarchy increased PBN endorsement among sexist (but not nonsexist) participants, an effect mediated by power values. In Studies 3 and 4, participants who scored high (vs. low) in sexism (Study 3) and social dominance orientation (Study 4) enforced higher appearance requirements for women in powerful (vs. entry-level), masculine professions. This “beauty tax” targeted women more than men (Study 3) and was mediated by PBN endorsement (Study 4). Illustrating real-life implications, in an organizational setting (Study 5), sexism predicted penalizing “insufficiently groomed” female candidates more for high-power (vs. low-power) jobs. Finally, supporting the hypothesis that the PBN represents a contemporary, subtle replacement for traditional hierarchy-maintaining ideologies that have lost their influence in modern secular society, Social Dominance Orientation (SDO) correlated with PBN endorsement among secular more than among religious respondents (Study 6), whose “ideological arsenal” contains more straightforward means to police women. We discuss practical implications for gender equality, as well as theoretical implications for reconciling evolutionary and feminist perspectives on beauty norms.

The Impact of Host Race and Gender on Prices on Airbnb
Anya Marchenko
Journal of Housing Economics, forthcoming

This study investigates the impact of host race and gender on Airbnb property prices. I use anexisting dataset of Airbnb listings and visually inspect 70,000 host profile pictures to code host demographics. I estimate that Asian hosts earn 4 – 5%, and Black male hosts 3%, less than White males for the same type of property. However, controlling for more observables weakens the effects, requiring a cautious interpretation of these point estimates. I use two proxies for the number of bookings a listing has to estimate whether a demand or supply shift is responsible for the price disparity. I find that despite the lower prices they charge for listings, minority hosts face lower demand. These findings are consistent with, but not conclusive of, the presence of discrimination.

Women at work: Changes in sexual harassment between September 2016 and September 2018
Ksenia Keplinger et al.
PLoS ONE, July 2019

Over the last two years, awareness about the sexual mistreatment of women has stunned the world. According to analysis by the New York Times, the defeat of Hilary Clinton and election of Donald Trump spurred a women’s movement in the US that began in November of 2016 and resulted in protests across the country, including the largest single-day protest in history on January 21, 2017. Later that year, the #MeToo movement (starting in October 2017) and subsequent #TimesUp movement (starting in January 2018) galvanized women to unite against sexual assault and sexual harassment, which has become the hallmark of the current women’s movement. But has anything changed over this time period in regard to the sexual harassment of women? Using a repeat cross-sectional survey from over 500 women collected at two points in time (September 2016 and September 2018), we found reduced levels of the most egregious forms of sexual harassment (unwanted sexual attention and sexual coercion) but increased levels of gender harassment in 2018. More importantly, sexual harassment had a weaker relationship with women’s negative self-views (lower self-esteem, higher self-doubt) in 2018 compared to 2016. Qualitative interviews collected from women in the fall of 2016 and in the fall of 2018 from the same women, support the quantitative data. They suggest that the changes in sexual harassment are due to the increased scrutiny on the topic. The interviewees also emphasize that they feel better supported and empowered and are not ashamed to speak up about sexual harassment.

The Relationship between Prejudice and Wage Penalties for Gay Men in the United States
Ian Burn
ILR Review, forthcoming

This article estimates the empirical relationship between prejudicial attitudes toward homosexuality and the wages of gay men in the United States. It combines data on prejudicial attitudes toward homosexuality from the General Social Survey with data on wages from the U.S. Decennial Censuses and American Community Surveys — both aggregated to the state level. The author finds that a one standard deviation increase in the share of individuals in a state who are prejudiced toward homosexuals is correlated with a decrease in the wages of gay men of between 2.7% and 4.0%. The results also suggest that the prejudice of managers is responsible for this correlation. The author finds that a one standard deviation increase in the share of the managers in a state who are prejudiced toward homosexuals is associated with a 1.9% decrease in the wages of gay men. The author finds no evidence that the wage penalty for gay men is correlated with the prejudice of customers or co-workers.

Why Are Women Penalized in Product Markets?
Tamar Kricheli-Katz, Tali Regev & Shelley Correll
Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World, July 2019

Previous research using data from eBay found that women receive lower prices than men when selling the exact same products. The current project explores why this gender gap obtains and why some products have larger gender price gaps than others. To answer these questions, we exploit the variation in the gender price gap across products found in the earlier eBay data together with new survey data on the perceptions people have about seemingly male-typed and female-typed products and about people’s uncertainty about the prices of products. We show that women are penalized more for selling products that are perceived to be typically owned by men compared to products that are perceived to be typically owned by women. We further demonstrate that the effects of gender stereotypes are greater when buyers’ uncertainty increases: when buyers are uncertain about their willingness to pay for a product or about its market price, women sellers are penalized more.

Do School Counselors Exhibit Bias in Recommending Students for Advanced Coursework?
Dania Francis, Angela de Oliveira & Carey Dimmitt
B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, forthcoming

In this paper, we seek to understand minority and female underrepresentation in advanced STEM courses in high school by investigating whether school counselors exhibit racial or gender bias during the course assignment process. Using an adapted audit study, we asked a sample of school counselors to evaluate student transcripts that were identical except for the names on the transcripts, which were varied randomly to suggestively represent a chosen race and gender combination. Our results indicate that black female students were less likely to be recommended for AP Calculus and were rated as being the least prepared. Our results have policy implications for any program that asks individuals to make recommendations that may be subject to bias – whether conscious or unconscious.

Gender grading bias in junior high school mathematics
Petter Berg, Ola Palmgren & Björn Tyrefors
Applied Economics Letters, forthcoming

Admission to high school in Sweden is based on the final grades from junior high. This article compares students’ final mathematics grade with new data from a high school introductory test score in mathematics. Both the grades and the test are based on the same syllabus, but teachers enjoy great discretion when deciding grades. The results show a substantial grading difference, consistent with grading bias against boys.

Who Dominates the Discourses of the Past? Gender, Occupational Affiliation, and Multivocality in North American Archaeology Publishing
Tiffany Fulkerson & Shannon Tushingham
American Antiquity, July 2019, Pages 379-399

Equity and the dissemination of knowledge remain major challenges in science. Peer-reviewed journal publications are generally the most cited, yet certain groups dominate in archaeology. Such uniformity of voice profoundly limits not only who conveys the past but also what parts of the material record are narrated and/or go untold. This study examines multiple participation metrics in archaeology and explores the intersections of gender and occupational affiliation in peer-reviewed (high time cost) and non-peer-reviewed (reduced time cost) journals. We find that although women and compliance archaeologists remain poorly represented in regional and national peer-reviewed journals, they are much more active in unrefereed publications. We review feminist and theoretical explanations for inequities in science and argue that (1) the persistent underrepresentation of women and of compliance professionals in archaeological publishing are structurally linked processes and (2) such trends can be best understood in light of the existing structure of American archaeology and the cost-benefit realities of publishing for people in various sectors of the discipline. We suggest that nonrefereed venues offer a pathway to multivocality and help to address epistemic injustices, and we discuss methods for widening the current narrow demographic of men and academics who persist in dominating discourses.

The Deserving Worker: Decisions about Workplace Accommodation by Judges and Laypeople
Jill Weinberg, Laura Beth Nielsen & Kathryn Albrecht
Law & Policy, July 2019, Pages 286-309

Employment civil rights laws require employers to make reasonable accommodations for certain workers so that they can perform their jobs. The “reasonableness” of an accommodation request should be based largely on the cost of the accommodation relative company's resources, but how do people really evaluate such requests? This study examines determinations of the reasonableness of workplace accommodation requests made by trial judges and ordinary people. Using a 2 x 3 x 3 between‐subjects factorial design, we test the effect of worker identity (nursing‐mother worker, transgender worker, and Muslim worker) and cost on determinations of reasonableness. We find that (A) the identity category of the requesting worker impacts determinations of reasonableness by both judges and laypeople, (B) the cost of the accommodation impacts determinations of reasonableness, (C) judges are more likely to think that accommodation requests are reasonable than are lay people, (D) there is a complicated relationship between accommodation cost and employee identity, and (E) the cost of the requested accommodation mitigates the effect of identity significantly for judges but less so for ordinary citizens. While judges are less influenced by the identity category of the employee‐requestor than are their lay‐counterparts, social status plays a role in determining what constitutes “reasonable accommodation.”

Audits as Evidence: Experiments, Ensembles, and Enforcement
Patrick Kline & Christopher Walters
University of California Working Paper, July 2019

We develop tools for utilizing correspondence experiments to detect illegal discrimination by individual employers. Employers violate US employment law if their propensity to contact applicants depends on protected characteristics such as race or sex. We establish identification of higher moments of the causal effects of protected characteristics on callback rates as a function of the number of fictitious applications sent to each job ad. These moments are used to bound the fraction of jobs that illegally discriminate. Applying our results to three experimental datasets, we find evidence of significant employer heterogeneity in discriminatory behavior, with the standard deviation of gaps in job-specific callback probabilities across protected groups averaging roughly twice the mean gap. In a recent experiment manipulating racially distinctive names, we estimate that at least 85% of jobs that contact both of two white applications and neither of two black applications are engaged in illegal discrimination. To assess more carefully the tradeoff between type I and II errors presented by these behavioral patterns, we consider the performance of a series of decision rules for investigating suspicious callback behavior under a simple two-type model that rationalizes the experimental data. Though, in our preferred specification, only 17% of employers are estimated to discriminate on the basis of race, we find that an experiment sending 10 applications to each job would enable accurate detection of 7-10% of discriminators while falsely accusing fewer than 0.2% of non-discriminators. A minimax decision rule acknowledging partial identification of the joint distribution of callback rates yields higher error rates but more investigations than our baseline two-type model. Our results suggest illegal labor market discrimination can be reliably monitored with relatively small modifications to existing audit designs.

The more you know, the better you’re paid? Evidence from pay secrecy bans for managers
Ian Burn & Kyle Kettler
Labour Economics, August 2019, Pages 92-109

Approximately half of Americans are employed at firms where employees are forbidden or discouraged from discussing their pay with coworkers. Employees who violate these rules may be subject to punishment or dismissal. While many employees are legally protected from reprisal under the National Labor Rights Act, the law exempts managers from these protections. Eleven states have passed laws banning pay secrecy policies for managers. In this paper, we explore what effect these state laws had on the wages and employment of managers. We find pay secrecy bans increased the wages of managers by 3.5% but had no effect on the gender wage gap, job tenure, or labor supply. The effects are heterogeneous along a number of dimensions. Below the median wage, female managers experienced a 2.9% increase in their wages relative to male managers. Above the median wage, male managers experienced a 2.7% increase in their wages relative to female managers. The wage gains were concentrated among managers employed at firms with fewer than 500 employees.

Salary History Bans and Gender Discrimination
Jeffrey Meli & James Spindler
University of Texas Working Paper, March 2019

A number of important jurisdictions have recently enacted salary history bans to combat the gender pay gap. This paper examines the effect of such bans by developing a novel, tractable economic model of unconscious bias in the workplace: some firms consistently but unconsciously under-evaluate the productivity of their female workers. In a Bayesian setting, a worker and his or her employer learn about worker quality over time by observing worker productivity; a worker’s salary thus conveys information about the employer’s inference of worker quality. A lateral employee market exists, and female workers who find themselves underpaid may choose to switch firms. We find that, under assumptions of non-strategic firm behavior, bans can reduce the gender wage gap, but do so at the expense of high-performing women; switching from discriminatory employers requires high-performing women to give up their history of high performance, and they may be effectively trapped at discriminatory firms. When firms are strategic (meaning they infer the reasons for employees’ switching behavior), bans do not reduce the gender wage gap; adverse selection results, which has an even more pronounced effect of trapping high-performing women by imposing greater switching costs on them. We find that a well-functioning job-switching market ameliorates unconscious bias and the gender wage gap, and that the wage gap (and the welfare of working women, particularly high-performers) is better addressed through policies that promote efficient job switching.

Police Income and Occupational Gender Inequality
Xiaoshuang Iris Luo, Cyrus Schleifer & Christopher Hill
Police Quarterly, forthcoming

Research has found a meaningful income gap between males and females across several occupational settings, and this is also true within law enforcement. As more female workers enter the criminal justice system, it is important to revisit and update these patterns of gender inequality to account for the changing gender dynamics within this occupation. Using Current Population Survey data, we document the gender differences in pay among police over the past 28 years. Police officers experience income advantage compared with the general working population, but they also show a stable gender gap in pay. While this stable inequality is better than other public-sector jobs — which have experienced a growth in the gender pay gap — it represents a continued disadvantage for police women, despite the growing number of women working in law enforcement and the rules governing public-sector employment. We further decompose the gendered pattern in police pay by whether these individuals work for federal, state, or local agencies, and find that those working for state government show stark declines in the gender gap in pay while those working for local or federal agencies experience little to no change in this gender income inequality over time. We conclude with a discussion of the policy implications of our findings and directions for future research on gender inequality within law enforcement occupations.

Discrimination in the Age of Algorithms
Jon Kleinberg et al.
Journal of Legal Analysis, 2018

The law forbids discrimination. But the ambiguity of human decision-making often makes it hard for the legal system to know whether anyone has discriminated. To understand how algorithms affect discrimination, we must understand how they affect the detection of discrimination. With the appropriate requirements in place, algorithms create the potential for new forms of transparency and hence opportunities to detect discrimination that are otherwise unavailable. The specificity of algorithms also makes transparent tradeoffs among competing values. This implies algorithms are not only a threat to be regulated; with the right safeguards, they can be a potential positive force for equity.

Smaller Classes Promote Equitable Student Participation in STEM
Cissy Ballen et al.
BioScience, August 2019, Pages 669–680

As science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) classrooms in higher education transition from lecturing to active learning, the frequency of student interactions in class increases. Previous research documents a gender bias in participation, with women participating less than would be expected on the basis of their numeric proportions. In the present study, we asked which attributes of the learning environment contribute to decreased female participation: the abundance of in-class interactions, the diversity of interactions, the proportion of women in class, the instructor's gender, the class size, and whether the course targeted lower division (first and second year) or upper division (third or fourth year) students. We calculated likelihood ratios of female participation from over 5300 student–instructor interactions observed across multiple institutions. We falsified several alternative hypotheses and demonstrate that increasing class size has the largest negative effect. We also found that when the instructors used a diverse range of teaching strategies, the women were more likely to participate after small-group discussions.


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