Skip to main content

Race, Interracial Relations, and Prejudice

More Racial Discrimination in Job Offers than in Callbacks

Many previous experiments on racial discrimination in hiring focus on whether or not an applicant received an invitation to interview, often referred to as a callback, because it is much more difficult to conduct a field experiment that goes all the way to the job offer outcome. IPR sociologist Lincoln Quillian and his coauthors conduct a meta-analysis of 12 experiments encompassing more than 8,300 job applications to understand discrimination in terms of job offers, rather than just callbacks. The researchers find significant additional discrimination in hiring after the callback. White applicants received 52% more callbacks and 128% more job offers than comparable minority applicants. The results demonstrate that minority applicants face substantial additional discrimination even after they make it past the initial pile of resumes. Racial discrimination in the labor market is significantly more serious than is suggested by field experiments that focus on the callback as the outcome of interest to study.

The Intersection of Racial and Partisan Discrimination

In an IPR working paper, IPR political scientist James Druckman and former IPR graduate research assistant Richard Shafranek (PhD 2020) explore the role race and political affiliation play in the desire of four-year colleges to communicate with prospective students. The study measured the likelihood of colleges and universities to respond to email requests for information from one of two racially distinct names, Jabari Washington or Dalton Wood, with one of four varying political mentions in the email. These mentions were no affiliation, active in a civics club, or politically involved with either a Young Democrats or Young Republicans club. The researchers found clear evidence of a racial threat bias. The average response rate to emails from the non-African American name that mentioned politics was about 75 percent; however, the response rate was roughly only 66 percent to an African American name who referenced politics in any way (for example, expressing an interest in politics or stating a party affiliation. Additionally, there was no noticeable discrimination towards a non-political African American prospective student. Therefore, the results suggest that, in some cases, the interaction of race and politics generates discriminatory behavior. The paper will be published in The Journal of Politics. Druckman is the Payson S. Wild Professor of Political Science.

Race and College Athletics

How does race affect student-athletes in college? In a series of IPR working papers, Druckman investigates aspects of race for both coaches and players. One study examines coaches’ beliefs about athlete protests, such as kneeling for the national anthem, within the NCAA. Among over 800 college coaches from a variety of sports and institutions, African American coaches were 40 percent more supportive of anthem protests and 26 percent more likely to believe that players genuinely care about the issues they protest. In another project, Druckman and his co-authors conduct a vignette survey experiment about NCAA medical staff to explore perceptions of an injured student-athlete—for example, asking respondents to gauge how likely it is that a student-athlete will follow medical recommendations. The researchers find little evidence of bias, although related work by Druckman finds that a majority of respondents view African Americans as having a greater tolerance for pain than white athletes—but only when the African American athletes come from less privileged social backgrounds.

How Many Racists?

How do different factors work together to shape an individual’s experience of race? IPR social demographer Quincy Thomas Stewart is using agent-based modeling for his forthcoming book, “How Many Racists? How Everyday People Contribute to a System of Inequality.” Stewart uses a computational simulation to examine racial inequality from a dynamic perspective, specifically investigating the social dynamics that lead to the emergence and maintenance of racial inequality. He also examines the history of racial inequality from 1865–1965, as well as the social organizations involved in maintaining inequities between whites and African Americans. Stewart finds that a large number of racists is not needed to maintain institutional inequalities, as biased social dynamics are also at play. People who do not expressly act or talk in a racist manner also learn subtle prejudices that can contribute to racial inequality. The results underscore the need for a broad, multifaceted policy approach to eradicate racial inequality. As Stewart notes, policies that strictly focus on preventing discriminatory action among individuals will miss the unique structural components of inequality.

Skin Tone's Relation to Mortality

Is skin tone in African Americans and whites related to mortality? In Ethnicity & HealthStewart uses data from the 1982 General Social Survey, linked to the National Death Index until 2008. He finds that observed skin tone is a significant determinant of mortality among African Americans. Light-skinned blacks had the lowest mortality hazards among African Americans, while those with medium- and dark-brown skin experienced significantly higher mortality. These results differed by education: Skin tone disparities are large among African Americans with at least a high school education, but not significant among those with lower education levels. This reveals that the nuanced social experiences of African Americans with different observed skin tones markedly change the experience of racial inequality. Stewart calls for further research on the social processes and biological mechanisms that connect skin tone to mortality outcomes in order to discover policies that might help mitigate the disparity.

Native American Inequality

In the first wide-scale examination of Native American inequality in 30 years, Redbird is examining the ways in which changing tribal structures and processes are affecting well-being and inequality. Since the last study of this scale, there have been multiple important developments across Native American lands and tribes, including gaming, energy projects, expanded health and social services, and the advent of tribal colleges. Redbird is using the Decennial Census, American Community Survey, Current Population Survey, and General Social Survey, paying particular attention to whether shifts in inequality are seen between different tribes or between members of the same tribe. She presented some of her findings in a seminar co-sponsored by IPR and the Center for Native American and Indigenous Research (CNAIR). She reported that although Native American communities have invested substantially in education, the employment rate and wage growth have both declined. Overall changes in the U.S. economy have especially impacted Native peoples, Redbird notes, including the loss of a large number of jobs in construction and manufacturing, the decline of the minimum wage, and the increase in unstable employment.

Perceiving Discrimination: Race, Gender, and Sexual Orientation in the Legal Workplace

Despite the demographic changes in the legal industry and increased support for diversity and inclusion, information about workplace discrimination in legal workplaces is limited. While women now make up more than 30% of lawyers and about 25% of all law school graduates are persons of color, both groups are underrepresented in partnership positions, among tenured law professors, and Fortune 500 general counsels. In a study, sociologist and IPR associate Robert Nelson and his colleagues examine whether legal professionals believe they were the target of workplace discrimination. The researchers conducted surveys asking 5,399 attorneys across the nation, who were admitted to the bar before 2000, to report whether they had experienced discrimination in 2002–03, 2007–08, and 2012–13. Between 44% and 48% of respondents said they had experienced discrimination in each of the survey years. The researchers discover that persons of color, white women, and LGBTQ attorneys were far more likely to say they were a target of discrimination than white men. The discrimination they described was overt, instead of due to unconscious or implicit bias. The researchers argue that the first step in combating workplace discrimination is for law firms to understand the scope of the problem, writing, “the fate of equal justice may be tied to the fate of equal opportunity in lawyers’ careers.”