The study, published in the journal Social Forces, shows that while a degree from an elite university improves all applicants’ chances at finding a well-paid job, the ease with which those jobs are obtained is not equal for black and white students even when they both graduate from an institution such as Harvard University.
A white candidate with a degree from a highly selective university, the paper suggests, receives an employer response for every six résumés he or she submits. A black candidate receives a response for every eight.
White candidates with degrees from less-selective universities can expect to get a response every 9 résumés, while equally qualified black candidates need to submit 15.
“Most people would expect that if you could overcome social disadvantages and make it to Harvard against all odds, you’d be pretty set no matter what, but this experiment finds that there are still gaps,” said S. Michael Gaddis, the author of the paper and the Robert Wood Foundation Scholar in Health Policy at the University of Michigan.
“Once you get out, you still have to deal with other human beings who have preconceived notions and misguided stereotypes about why you were able to go to this college.”
Gaddis gave the candidates names that were likely to signal to potential employers what their races were — black male applicants were named Jalen, Lamar and DaQuan; black female applicants were named Nia, Ebony and Shanice; white male applicants were named Caleb, Charlie and Ronny; and white female applicants were named Aubrey, Erica and Lesly.
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