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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Getting Hired: Race and Sex Differences


The hiring process is currently probably the least understood aspect of the employment relationship. It may very well be the most important for understanding the broad processes of stratification with allocation by sex and race to jobs and firms. A central reason for the lack of knowledge is that it is very difficult to assemble extensive data on the processes that occur at the point of hire. We analyze data on all applicants to a large service organization in the U.S. in a 16 month period in 1993-1994. We investigate their rating at the time of application, the probability of getting hired, and the ratings achieved one, three, and six months after hire. Overall differences between men and women are (a) negligible in rating received at time of application, (b) small but slightly in favor of women in probability of getting hired, and (c) clearly in favor of women for ratings after hire. The evidence points unambiguously in one direction: women do not come worse out than men in the hiring process in this organization. To the extent there is a difference, it is to the advantage of women. However, if the post-hire performance ratings are free of sex bias, then women should have been hired at an even higher rate. When analyses are done separately by occupation, there are few differences between men and women in getting hired in the three occupations accounting for 94% of hires. In the other two, only 8 and 15 hires were made, making statistical analysis less meaningful. There is however evidence that blacks face a disadvantage in getting hired, and also receive lower ratings after hire. Hispanic men are especially disadvantaged in getting hired.

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