Major minorities

Kevin Lewis

November 01, 2018

The face of STEM: Racial phenotypic stereotypicality predicts STEM persistence by — and ability attributions about — students of color
Melissa Williams, Julia George-Jones & Mikki Hebl
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming


Despite strong initial interest, college students — especially those from underrepresented minority (URM) backgrounds — leave STEM majors at high rates. Here, we explore the role of racial phenotypic stereotypicality, or how typical one’s physical appearance is of one’s racial group, in STEM persistence. In a longitudinal study, URM students were especially likely to leave STEM to the extent that they looked more stereotypical of their group; Asian American students were especially likely to leave STEM to the extent that they looked less stereotypical. Three experiments documented a possible mechanism; participants (Studies 2–4), including college advisors (Study 3), attributed greater STEM ability to more-stereotypical Asian Americans and to less-stereotypical Black women (not men), than to same-race peers. Study 4 showed that prejudice concerns, activated in interactions with Black men (not women), account for this gender difference; more-stereotypical Black men (like women) were negatively evaluated when prejudice concerns were not salient. This work has important implications for ongoing efforts to achieve diversity in STEM.

The Impact of Organizational Performance on the Emergence of Asian American Leaders
Seval Gündemir, Andrew Carton & Astrid Homan
Journal of Applied Psychology, forthcoming


Despite remarkably high levels of education and income, Asian Americans remain underrepresented at the top of the organizational hierarchy. Existing work suggests that a mismatch between the prototypical characteristics of business leaders (e.g., dominance) and stereotypes associated with Asian Americans (e.g., submissiveness) lowers the likelihood that Asian Americans will emerge as leaders. We predict that this reluctance to appoint Asian Americans will be attenuated when organizations experience performance decline because decision makers believe Asian Americans are inclined to sacrifice their self-interest to improve the welfare of others. We found support for these predictions using a multimethod approach. In an archival study of 4,951 CEOs across five decades, we find that Asian Americans were appointed almost two-and-a-half times more often during decline than nondecline (Study 1). Then, in three studies, we show that this pattern occurs because evaluators (a) prefer self-sacrificing leaders more when organizations are experiencing decline than success (Study 2); (b) expect Asian Americans leaders to behave in self-sacrificing ways in general (Study 3); and, consequently, (c) perceive that Asian Americans are better equipped to be leaders during decline than success (Study 4). We consider these findings in tandem with a set of exploratory analyses. This includes our finding that organizations experience decline only 12% of the time, suggesting that evaluators deem Asian Americans to be suitable leaders in circumstances that occur infrequently and are short-lived.

Racialized Re-entry: Labor Market Inequality After Incarceration
Bruce Western & Catherine Sirois
Social Forces, forthcoming


Why do some people succeed in the labor market after incarceration but others do not? We study the transition from prison to work with data on monthly employment and earnings for a sample of men and women observed for a year after incarceration. More than in earlier research, the data provide detailed measurement of temporary and informal employment and richly describe the labor market disadvantages of formerly incarcerated men and women. We find that half the sample is jobless in any given month and average earnings are well below the poverty level. By jointly modeling employment and earnings, we show that blacks and Hispanics have lower total earnings than whites even after accounting for health, human capital, social background, crime and criminal justice involvement, and job readiness. A decomposition attributes most of the earnings gaps to racial and ethnic inequalities in employment. Qualitative interviews suggest that whites more than blacks and Hispanics find stable, high-paying jobs through social networks. These findings support a hypothesis of racialized re-entry that helps explain the unusual disadvantage of African Americans at the nexus of the penal system and the labor market.

Do Equal Employment Opportunity Statements Backfire? Evidence From A Natural Field Experiment On Job-Entry Decisions
Andreas Leibbrandt & John List
NBER Working Paper, September 2018


Labor force composition and the allocation of talent remain of vital import to modern economies. For their part, governments and companies around the globe have implemented equal employment opportunity (EEO) regulations to influence labor market flows. Even though such regulations are pervasive, surprisingly little is known about their impacts. We use a natural field experiment conducted across 10 U.S. cities to investigate if EEO statements in job advertisements affect the first step in the employment process, application rates. Making use of data from nearly 2,500 job seekers, we find considerable policy effects, but in an unexpected direction: the presence of an EEO statement dampens rather than encourages racial minorities’ willingness to apply for jobs. Importantly, the effects are particularly pronounced for educated job seekers and in cities with white majority populations. Complementary survey evidence suggests the underlying mechanism at work is “tokenism”, revealing that EEO statements backfire because racial minorities avoid environments in which they are perceived as regulatory, or symbolic, hires rather than being hired on their own merits. Beyond their practical and theoretical importance, our results highlight how field experiments can significantly improve policymaking. In this case, if one goal of EEO regulations is to enhance the pool of minority applicants, then it is not working.

Model minority of a different kind? Academic competence and behavioral health of Chinese children adopted into White American families
Tony Xing Tan
Asian American Journal of Psychology, September 2018, Pages 169-178


Asian American students’ favorable academic achievement has mainly and frequently been attributed to their family cultural values. Children who immigrated to the United States as infants or toddlers through international adoption and are subsequently growing up in White families are a unique group of American children of Chinese heritage. In this article, 4 studies were used to determine how the lack of exposure to Asian family cultural values might affect adopted Chinese children’s academic outcomes and behavioral health. Study 1 compared 180 adopted Chinese youth with 153 U.S.-born peers on self-reported school adjustment and behavioral health. Study 2 examined 224 adopted Chinese youth’s self-reported academic competence and global self-esteem. Study 3 reported teachers’ judgment on 71 adopted Chinese youth’s academic competence and parents’ ratings on the same 71 youth’s behavioral problems. Study 4 compared 40 mothers’ reports of behavioral problems in their biological children and adoptive Chinese children. All adopted children were girls, as the vast majority of children adopted from China are girls. Results from the 4 studies showed that despite lacking the Asian family cultural background, the adopted Chinese children had favorable academic and behavioral health status, which resembled what has been demonstrated by Asian American students.

“They Want the Spanish but They Don’t Want the Mexicans”: Whiteness and Consumptive Contact in an Oregon Spanish Immersion School
Ashley Woody
Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, forthcoming


Drawing from in-depth interviews with 18 white, black, Latinx, and multiracial parents whose children attend a Spanish immersion elementary school, the author examines the politics of race, class, and resistance in a historically white community that is experiencing an influx of nonwhites. Parental narratives reveal that many whites enrolled their children in Spanish immersion to capture cultural and economic benefits they associate with bilingualism and diversity. Interviews also suggest that white support for diversity is contingent on the condition that nonwhites provide carefully controlled diversity: one that benefits whites without threatening race and class hierarchies. The maintenance of white spatial and social segregation allowed whites to engage with families of color at the school primarily through consumptive contact, a form of interracial contact predicated upon whites’ perceptions about the material benefits their children will acquire through exposure to diversity and bilingualism. Consumptive contact allows whites to selectively consume aspects of Latin American cultures without facilitating the social and institutional inclusion of the groups associated with those cultures. Findings illuminate distinct economic motivations behind whites’ engagement communities of color, adding a material dimension to our understanding of whites’ racialized consumptive practices.

Ethical Leadership Perceptions: Does It Matter If You’re Black or White?
Dennis Marquardt, Lee Warren Brown & Wendy Casper
Journal of Business Ethics, September 2018, Pages 599–612


Ethical scandals in business are all too common. Due to the increased public awareness of the transgressions of business executives and the potential costs associated with these transgressions, ethical leadership is among the top qualities sought by organizations as they hire and promote managers. This search for ethical leaders intersects with a labor force that is becoming more racially diverse than ever before. In this paper, we propose that the ethical leadership qualities of business leaders may be perceived differently depending upon the race of the leader. Using two experimental studies in the USA, we examine the difference in ethical leadership perceptions between a Black (White) hypocritical CEO and an ethical CEO (Study 1). Next, we consider a Black (White) ethically ambiguous CEO and an ethical CEO (Study 2). The findings indicate that a Black leader faces larger negative impact in hypocritical and ambiguous conditions than a similar White leader. There were no significant race effects in the ethical conditions in which a leader demonstrated a personal commitment to ethics through words or actions. We discuss the implications of these findings.

Teachers’ perceptions of students’ executive functions: Disparities by gender, ethnicity, and ELL status
Elisa Garcia, Michael Sulik & Jelena Obradović
Journal of Educational Psychology, forthcoming


Teacher-report is commonly used to assess executive functions (EFs) in schools, but teachers’ perceptions of EF skills may be biased by students’ demographic characteristics. In this short-term longitudinal study, we assessed whether students’ gender, ethnicity, and English language learner (ELL) status predicted teachers’ reports of students’ EFs, beyond what would be expected based on direct assessment of EFs. In addition, we tested whether these associations changed between the fall and spring. Data were drawn from a school-based study of third-, fourth-, and fifth-grade students (N = 558, 33 classrooms, 8 schools) in which students’ EFs were measured using direct assessments and teacher reports in the fall and spring. Using path analysis to control for the contribution of the direct assessment of EFs, we found systematic gender, ethnic, and ELL status disparities in teachers’ reports of students’ EFs. Moreover, these disparities did not change between the fall and spring. Given increased interest in incorporating teachers’ report of students’ EF skills into student report cards and school accountability indices, researchers and practitioners should further investigate and address the potential for systematic disparities in teachers’ reports of EFs.

Who Goes to College, Military, Prison, or Long-Term Unemployment? Racialized School-to-Labor Market Transitions Among American Men
JooHee Han
Population Research and Policy Review, August 2018, Pages 615–640


This paper analyzes the selection processes behind post-schooling transitions into college enrollment, military service, long-term unemployment, and incarceration relative to civilian employment, examining to what extent these processes are racialized. Rather than analyzing a complete set of alternatives, previous research typically focuses on a limited set of these alternatives at a time, and rarely accounts for incarceration or long-term unemployment. Using individual-level panel data on the first post-high school transition from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 Cohort, results show that white men experience positive transitions (college enrollment and military service) at higher rates and for longer periods than black men, who experience negative transitions (long-term unemployment and incarceration) at higher rates for longer periods than whites. Competing risk Cox regression analyses reveal that blacks’ transitions are polarized, showing that blacks in the upper distributions of standardized test scores and socioeconomic status are more likely to pursue a college education relative to their white counterparts, whereas blacks in the bottom of the standardized test score and socioeconomic status distribution are more likely to experience negative transitions than whites. Unlike prior research finding that military service provided “bridging careers” for racial minorities, black men are no longer more likely to join the military than whites. Instead, blacks now face a much higher risk of incarceration. Implications for intra-generational mobility and changing opportunity structures for racial minorities are discussed.

Fluctuating courses and constant challenges: The two trajectories of black-white earnings inequality, 1968–2015
Chunhui Ren
Social Science Research, forthcoming


While rich literature exists on black-white earnings disparity, few studies differentiate the separate challenges facing different socioeconomic segments of the black population. Based on the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), this study explores the evolvement of black-white inequality in early-career earnings separately among college-educated and non-college-educated Americans from 1968 to 2015. The results indicate that while college-educated African Americans underwent fluctuating progress toward racial earnings equality, contingent on larger political and economic climates, African Americans of limited educational attainment experienced persistently wide earnings gaps with their white counterparts. By confirming the significance of social class on African-American economic outcomes, this study provides evidence in support of class-specific policy interventions toward racial equality. It also opens the door for subsequent research to explore specific mechanisms through which class-based racial disadvantages are operationalized.

Do School Discipline Policies Treat Students Fairly? Evidence From Arkansas
Kaitlin Anderson & Gary Ritter
Educational Policy, forthcoming


It is well documented that Black students are more likely to receive expulsions and suspensions than their White peers. These disparities are troubling, but researchers and policy makers need more information to fully understand the issue. We use 3 years (2010-2011 through 2012-2013) of state-wide student- and discipline incident-level data to assess whether non-White students are receiving harsher disciplinary consequences than their White peers for similar infractions and with similar behavioral history. We find that Black students received more severe (longer) punishments than their White peers for the same types of infractions, but that these disproportionalities are primarily across rather than within schools.

Doing better but feeling worse: An attributional account of achievement—self-esteem disparities in Asian American students
Xiaochen Chen & Sandra Graham
Social Psychology of Education, September 2018, Pages 937–949


Asian American students often report lower self-esteem than their peers from other racial groups even though they are doing better academically. The current study attempted to explore this paradox from an attributional perspective. Academic achievement, self-esteem and attributions for academic failures (i.e., low ability and low effort) were examined in an ethnically diverse sample of 3546 White, Black, Latino, and Asian American 8th grade students (Mage = 14.03 years) from California. Results showed that Asians had the highest grade point average but the lowest self-esteem among the four major racial/ethnic groups. Asians and Latinos also endorsed more low ability attributions than Whites and Blacks. The self-esteem gap between Asians and their White and Black peers was partly explained by more endorsement of low ability attributions. Implications for future research and interventions were discussed.

Stereotyping across intersections of race and age: Racial stereotyping among White adults working with children
Naomi Priest et al.
PLoS ONE, September 2018


This study examined the prevalence of racial/ethnic stereotypes among White adults who work or volunteer with children, and whether stereotyping of racial/ethnic groups varied towards different age groups. Participants were 1022 White adults who volunteer and/or work with children in the United States who completed a cross-sectional, online survey. Results indicate high proportions of adults who work or volunteer with children endorsed negative stereotypes towards Blacks and other ethnic minorities. Respondents were most likely to endorse negative stereotypes towards Blacks, and least likely towards Asians (relative to Whites). Moreover, endorsement of negative stereotypes by race was moderated by target age. Stereotypes were often lower towards young children but higher towards teens.

The Association Between a Holistic Review in Admissions Workshop and the Diversity of Accepted Applicants and Students Matriculating to Medical School
Douglas Grbic et al.
Academic Medicine, forthcoming

Purpose: The authors tested for an association between the Association of American Medical Colleges’ holistic review in admissions (HRA) workshop and the compositional diversity of medical school accepted applicants and matriculants in schools that held workshops compared to those that did not.

Method: The authors examined school-level data from 134 medical schools accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education for the years 2006-2016 using information from the American Medical College Application Service. They used a fixed effects regression to examine the within-school association between an HRA workshop and four measures of diversity: percent first generation college students, percent Black/African American, percent Hispanic, and overall level of racial/ethnic diversity as measured by a diversity index.

Results: For schools that held an HRA workshop, descriptive statistics showed higher mean values across all four measures of diversity for the post-HRA workshop period (the HRA implementation period) compared to the pre-workshop period (accepted applicants: d = .34 to .79; matriculants: d = .29 to .73). Analyzing data for all schools, including those that did not hold a workshop, regression models showed that the HRA implementation period was associated with a significant and sustained increase for all four measures of diversity. These finding were consistent for both accepted applicants (P < .01) and matriculants (P < .01).

Hierarchies of Categorical Disadvantage: Economic Insecurity at the Intersection of Disability, Gender, and Race
Michelle Maroto, David Pettinicchio & Andrew Patterson
Gender & Society, forthcoming


Intersectional feminist scholars emphasize how overlapping systems of oppression structure gender inequality, but in focusing on the gendered, classed, and racialized bases of stratification, many often overlook disability as an important social category in determining economic outcomes. This is a significant omission given that disability severely limits opportunities and contributes to cumulative disadvantage. We draw from feminist disability and intersectional theories to account for how disability intersects with gender, race, and education to produce economic insecurity. The findings from our analyses of 2015 American Community Survey data provide strong empirical support for hierarchies of disadvantage, where women and racial minority groups with disabilities and less education experience the highest poverty levels, report the lowest total income, and have a greater reliance on sources outside the labor market for economic security. By taking disability into account, our study demonstrates how these multiple characteristics lead to overlapping oppressions that become embedded and reproduced within the larger social structure.

to your National Affairs subscriber account.

Already a subscriber? Activate your account.


Unlimited access to intelligent essays on the nation’s affairs.

Subscribe to National Affairs.