Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Some Examples of the Hiring Process

A just-released paper by the Behavioral Economics Team of the Australian Government (BETA) looks at hiring processes in the Australian Public Service Commission. Here’s the summary:

This study assessed whether women and minorities are discriminated against in the early stages of the recruitment process for senior positions in the APS, while also testing the impact of implementing a ‘blind’ or de-identified approach to reviewing candidates.

Over 2,100 public servants from 14 agencies participated in the trial. They completed an exercise in which they shortlisted applicants for a hypothetical senior role in their agency. Participants were randomly assigned to receive application materials for candidates in standard form or in de-identified form (with information about candidate gender, race and ethnicity removed).

We found that the public servants engaged in positive (not negative) discrimination towards female and minority candidates:

– Participants were 2.9% more likely to shortlist female candidates and 3.2% less likely to shortlist male applicants when they were identifiable, compared with when they were de-identified.
– Minority males were 5.8% more likely to be shortlisted and minority females were 8.6% more likely to be shortlisted when identifiable compared to when applications were de-identified.
– The positive discrimination was strongest for Indigenous female candidates who were 22.2% more likely to be shortlisted when identifiable compared to when the applications were de-identified.

Interestingly, male reviewers displayed markedly more positive discrimination in favour of minority candidates than did female counterparts, and reviewers aged 40+ displayed much stronger affirmative action in favour for both women and minorities than did younger ones.

Overall, the results indicate the need for caution when moving towards ’blind’ recruitment processes in the Australian Public Service, as de-identification may frustrate efforts aimed at promoting diversity.

Ignoring the authors’ failure to write in proper American, I can think of four very obvious reasons for the results described in the paragraph that begins with the word “Interestingly.” I wonder whether the people who did this study realized what was going on and decided to opt for discretion over valor.

On not-quite-the-same topic, here’s a 2010 paper by Ruffle and Shtudenter:

Job applicants in Europe and in Israel increasingly imbed a headshot of themselves in the top corner of their CVs. We sent 5312 CVs in pairs to 2656 advertised job openings. In each pair, one CV was without a picture while the second, otherwise almost identical CV contained a picture of either an attractive male/female or a plain-looking male/female. Employer callbacks to attractive men are significantly higher than to men with no picture and to plain-looking men, nearly doubling the latter group. Strikingly, attractive women do not enjoy the same beauty premium. In fact, women with no picture have a significantly higher rate of callbacks than attractive or plain-looking women. We explore a number of explanations and provide evidence that female jealousy of attractive women in the workplace is a primary reason for the punishment of attractive women.

So, who are the fiends discriminating against unattractive men and attractive women? Well, it turns out that they are the people staffing the HR department in various companies. And who staffs the HR department?

In light of the above, the jealousy explanation seems especially fitting when we consider that 93% of the respondents in our sample were female (as determined by their voice when they left a voicemail message, their name when they sent an email or by a discreet phone call to the company when there was any doubt as to the respondent’s sex). One may be concerned that the person calling back to invite the candidate for an interview may not be the same discriminating person who screened the CVs. Yet, human resource departments in Israel and indeed throughout the West are staffed predominantly by women. To verify this stereotype, we asked to speak with the person who screens candidates’ CV when conducting the post-experiment survey. In 24 of the 25 (96%) companies we interviewed that person is a female. Moreover, these woman are young (ranging in age from 23 to 34 with an average age of 29) and typically single (16/24 or 67%) – qualities more likely to be associated with a jealous response when confronted with a young, attractive competitor in the workplace.

I think the authors are on pretty safe ground when they note that this phenomenon is largely due to the gender of those typically staffing HR departments.  I am not as convinced that jealousy is the root cause of their behavior, though.

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Launching the Nine-ther Movement

by Bruce Webb

Conservatives have long been 2nd Amendment Absolutists (unless you are a black man carrying a stick outside a mostly black precinct in Philadelphia, somehow ‘open carry’ doesn’t apply there). Now they have doubled down with the Tenther Movement, which they have tied together with an Enumerated Powers doctrine which mostly doesn’t actually appear in the text of the Constitution, to launch a renaissance of States’ Rights and even Nullification. Yet this expansive reading of the 2nd and 10th amendments somehow never seems to prevent them from claiming that the Right to Privacy underlying Roe v Wade just isn’t in the Constitution at all. Yet if you apply Tenther logic to the Ninth Amendment as read in light of the Fourth the right to privacy seems pretty much implicit.

Amendment 9 – Construction of Constitution. Ratified 12/15/1791.
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

So like States People have retained rights that only START with the Fourth Amendment

Amendment 4 – Search and Seizure. Ratified 12/15/1791.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Hmm, ‘secure in their persons’. Unless you have a uterus I guess.

This is particularly acute given that Scalia came out and claimed that the protections of the Fourteenth Amendment don’t apply to women as such.

Amendment 14 – Citizenship Rights. Ratified 7/9/1868.
1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Sorry ladies, per Scalia you are not even part of the ‘people’ as expressed in the Ninth and Fourth Amendments, or even in principle ether ‘persons’ or ‘citizens’ under the Fourteenth.

Anyone expecting the Teabaggers to come running to join an effort to read the Ninth as broadly as they do the Second and Tenth? Me neither.

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Women and participation in labor force

Nancy Folbre economist at UMass Amherst speaks to the issue of the participation of women in our economy:

Paradoxically, however, the very expansion of paid employment and the success of feminism have weakened gender solidarity. They have also intensified inequalities in family living standards.

Relatively few women in the workplace have made it into Ms. Whitman’s and Ms. Fiorina’s league. Still, earnings differences among women have been growing over time in the United States.

Married women’s rapid movement into paid employment between the 1960s and the mid-1990s helped prop up family incomes. But high-earning women tend to marry high-earning men, while low earners tend either to marry one another or — increasingly — not to marry at all. As women have garnered higher incomes, this marital sorting has intensified family-income inequality.

As more married women started bringing home a paycheck, previous differences in market income among families were reduced.

But the resulting decline in unpaid work had the opposite effect. Married women who don’t work for pay typically devote more than 40 hours a week to child care, meal preparation, house cleaning, shopping and related tasks, making a substantial contribution to family living standards.

Women’s productivity per hour in unpaid work almost certainly varied less than their market earnings, suggesting that housewives exerted an equalizing effect on the distribution of families’ “extended earnings” — the sum of market earnings and the imputed value of unpaid work.

As a result, increases in married women’s labor-force participation probably had a disequalizing effect on this broad measure of living standards.

(You can find more details about this argument in a draft paper of which I was a co-author for a recent conference on inequality and the middle class sponsored by the Luxembourg Income Study).

Rdan here…take a look at the draft paper…interesting.

Andrew Leonard at Atlantic presents a more practical concern of the Great Recession for many women.

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