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How Subtle Class Cues Can Backfire on a Resume (2016) (hbr.org)
420 points by apsec112 on Mar 25, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 305 comments



Great study. I think this perfectly underscores the concept of what "privilege" is, in a scientifically robust way.

I have a worry about one of the implied conclusions, though. The high-status women were clearly discriminated against based solely on gender. However (and trying to tread carefully here), it is at least possible that a high status woman would be more likely to leave for family reasons than a high status man. That doesn't make the discrimination any better, but it also means the employers aren't necessarily acting economically irrationally (of course, there is also the chicken-and-egg problem, in that these high-status women might be more likely to take up a domestic role because they're being discriminated against in the first place). I say this not to give the employers a pass, but to suggest that any real, durable solution to the discrimination shouldn't automatically assume those social factors are imaginary.


It also underscores why there's backlash against the concept of privilege. Lower-class men received the fewest job interviews of all four quadrants. Not only do they not get the job, they also get put in the same analytical bucket as the higher-class men.


I think this is really important to acknowledge. Intersectionality (i.e. subtlety and hollistic thinking) is actually a great way to think about inequity. But a lot of people who are interested in intersectionality are blind to many struggles specific to poor white males (I say this as a relatively privileged person Far removed from that demographic). Poor white males might skew more sexist and racist, but that is largely in response to upbringing, poor education, and poor economic opportunities. It is a big blind spot in many otherwise very liberal people's thinking to exclude poor white males, and that exclusion breeds resentment from a potential ally in addressing problems of inequity (and it contributes to a vicious cycle of racism/sexism leading to exclusion leading to more racism/sexism).

Not saying this is an easy fix, but many other liberal people I know seem shockingly uninterested in even treating this as a problem.


I think it goes even deeper than that. I think for many people poor white men are one the category of people who it's still acceptable to hate.

https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/09/30/i-can-tolerate-anythin...


>There is a partly-formed attempt to spin off a Grey Tribe typified by libertarian political beliefs, Dawkins-style atheism, vague annoyance that the question of gay rights even comes up, eating paleo, drinking Soylent, calling in rides on Uber, reading lots of blogs, calling American football “sportsball”, getting conspicuously upset about the War on Drugs and the NSA, and listening to filk – but for our current purposes this is a distraction and they can safely be considered part of the Blue Tribe most of the time

Damn that hits close to home


> calling American football “sportsball”

who does this, and why?


I have never referred to American Football as "sportsball" specifically, but I have used the term "sportsball" as a catch-all term for "sports that I am not interested in". E.g., "Oh, you think it's annoying when I talk about video games? Well, I think it's annoying when you talk about sportsball."


Those who wish to signal their disinterest - American football is often construed as nonintellectual and skews lower socioeconomically than, say, the "Hamilton" audience. So to feign a complete lack of familiarity with it puts you above those people who understand and enjoy it.


Interesting. I'm not much of a football fan myself, as I'm apparently missing whatever part of the brain is required to enjoy watching team sports.

However, I'd certainly encourage any sports fans who specifically dislike football to read what Hunter S. Thompson wrote on the subject. His passion has sold me on the merits of the game - even if it's still not my personal cup of tea.


> feign a complete lack of familiarity with it

Believe it or not, some of us are actually completely unfamiliar with it. I watched the Superbowl once about ten years ago, and that's literally the extent of my lifetime exposure to football.


I heard John Hodgman use it on his podcast and thought it was a funny way to communicate that I'm just not interested in that category of entertainment. I find it works for all televised sporting leagues in the US. I use it mostly when people try to talk with me about sports at work.

"Did you see last night's game?"

"Were they playing sportsball again last night?"

"Oh yeah, you don't watch sports"

This conversation works without me having to know which sport is in season.


This is a pretty good article to read in case you have the time.


Started reading this, and already it makes you reflect on some assumptions and clearly exposes some very interesting ideas. Brilliant writing.


My experience is that sociologists are all like the woman who wrote this article: totally aware of the issues involved in dealing with multiple binary variables and a little embarrassed by the overly fancy and political word "intersectionality." Maybe you are right about other liberal people, but you will never meet a sociologist with this blindspot.


It's decidedly harder to be intelectually lazy when your job depends on understanding nuance. I find that people who actually use these terms as part of their job (unsurprisingly) tend to have a much better understanding of them than laypeople who mainly want to sound like they have the correct political opinions for their social demographic.


"Poor white males might skew more sexist and racist.."

[citation needed]


It's not the lack of citation that bothers me - try this:

"Poor black males might skew more criminal and violent.."

Suddenly the problem isn't how reliable a citation might be. There are few groups you're allowed criticize with statistics.


"White males" might skew more "sexist and racist", I can't believe this is still stated without a hint of irony. It was a blatant the first time I heard it, and it's still blatant today.


Not a native English speaker but I would take "might" in this setting to signal "this might or might not be true and I am not necessarily endorsing this view but..." or "one might argue that".


I read this as "lets throw a "might" in to be less blatant, but this is what i believe".


Poor white males might skew more sexist and racist, but that is largely in response to upbringing, poor education, and poor economic opportunities.

Might in that context is, a substitute for 'while it is true that' not a weasel word like probably.


Do you agree then with GGP that personal beliefs require citation?


Not only do they not get the job, they also get put in the same analytical bucket as the higher-class men.

That really is the elephant in the corner: the variations in privilege by gender for the white university-educated middle and upper-middle classes are barely a rounding error compared to the gulf in privilege between them and the working class, or the non-whites even of the middle class, which the framework of analysis used by their article glosses over. That is why, outside of their bubble, cries of "male privilege!" ring so hollow. Nobody likes to be lectured by someone who spends more on a coffee, than they earn in an hour. Or who drops a quarter-million dollars on a degree of no vocational use.

I don't agree with most of Marx's conclusions, but he was absolutely right in that class is the lens through which to understand societies.


Sometimes I think the real purpose of all this talk about gender is to hide the real discrimination, which is mostly about class, and nepotism among the elite.


But it's not a rounding error, is it? In the study, the difference between upper class men and upper class women was greater than the difference between upper class men and lower class applicants generally.


Why do you say that? If you look at the graph in the article, that's not true at all.


The comment I was responding to said that "the variations in privilege by gender for the white university-educated middle and upper-middle classes are barely a rounding error compared to the gulf in privilege between them and the working class."

But that's not true. Men got 1.8x as many callbacks as women, and upper class candidates got 2.6x as many callbacks as lower class candidates. Even if the class divide as a somewhat greater impact, the gender divide is not a "rounding error."

The other way to look at it is that the callback rate for upper class women was the same as the average callback rate for lower class applicants, and both rates are much lower than for upper class males.


The whole point of breaking the results down by class is that your statement of "Men got 1.8x as many callbacks as women", while true, is very misleading, because the sex difference only benefitted upper class men. Lower class men got the fewest callbacks of any group.


It's equally wrong to say that it's about class and not gender, because the class difference only benefited upper class men. Upper class women did not get a statistically significant number more callbacks than lower class applicants.

Again, I'm responding to a comment that called the gender discrimination a "rounding error." It clearly is not--there is both gender and class discrimination happening and upper class women aren't better positioned than lower class applicants.


By choosing to group the data in male/female as you do and omitting the class variable, consciously or not, you can reach wrong conclusions about the interpretation of the data. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simpson%27s_paradox


I didn't, I grouped it both by class and by gender.


Just wanted to say I agree with you, and that's why I think this is such a well done and fascinating study. Privilege does clearly exist in this study, but not necessarily in the patterns that are assumed.


> Not only do they not get the job, they also get put in the same analytical bucket as the higher-class men.

What the study shows is that upper class men have a clear advantage, and everyone else is roughly in the same boat. (The callback rate among upper class women was the same as the callback rate among lower class applicants.)

There is no reason that the concept of "privilege" cannot embrace economic privilege as well as gender and racial privilege (and it should, because discrimination is happening along all those dimensions). However, at a certain point the theory comes into conflict with political reality. The current trend in American politics is various marginalized groups (women, LGBT folks, racial and religious minorities) all congregating under the same tent, even though they otherwise don't have all that much in common. The notable exception is lower class white men, who (as a generalization) are very resistant to the idea of being a part of that tent. And they disproportionately vote against the interests of the other folks in that tent.

So it appears to me that the exclusion is at least in part self-imposed.


There is a note underneath the chart that the difference between lower class women and men is not statistically significant - so we don't know if there is a difference between men and women there.


Note that it does not ever say that the difference between upper class women and upper class men was statistically significant.

> The differences in callback rates for higher-class women, lower-class men and lower-class women were not statistically significant, but higher-class men received significantly more callbacks than all other categories

It is very suspicious that the wording was "significantly more" instead of "statistically significant", especially when she specifically called out statistical significance for the other groups right before it.

If the difference was not statistically significant, that fact is intentionally and malevolently obfuscated.


This isn't an academic journal. But, of course, you can go read their actually published piece. What they say there is:

"The higher-class male applicant had a callback rate of 16.25 percent, more than four times as high as the average callback rate for the other three applicants, who collectively generated just nine interview invitations from 235 applications, a callback rate of 3.83 percent. This fourfold difference is significant not only statistically (p < .001) but also substantively, and its magnitude is especially striking when considering the fact that applicants’ entire law school records and all academic and professional experiences were identical".

So no need for conspiracy theories.


There's no need for snark.

My point still stands. Statistical significance for upper class men vs. upper class women is never mentioned.

The statistics in this instance are cooked and very misleading. It does not prove the author's point. The major claim in this article is that upper class men did much better than upper class women:

> Why did the higher-class man do so much better than the higher-class woman?

Yet the statistic only compares upper class men to everyone else.

Why did the authors choose to only mention the p-value for one category vs. everyone else? Why not other data slices?

The authors clearly calculated the p-value between individual groups (from their "not statistically significant" comment). Why did they not list these values?

It's a choice between negligent data analysis or intentional omission.


> Why did the authors choose to only mention the p-value for one category vs. everyone else? Why not other data slices?

Because that's the only part that I quoted - go read the academic article yourself if you want the full analysis.

Let's just do the p-value comparison of upper-class men to upper-class women for you just to settle this. The null-hypothesis is that both categories are equally interviewed. Total of 18 people interview (13 of 80 men, 3 of 79 women). If all null-hypothesis is true, the 16 interviews would be randomly distributed into the men and women categories. The chance of getting at least 13 men would then be sum_(i=13)^16 (16 choose i) * (80/159)^i * (79/159)^(16-i) which equals p = 0.011. So much for malevolent omission!


What is your beef? The study's N and the raw evaluation numbers are even stated in the layman's article, you can even calculate statistical significance yourself if you don't trust the author's statements.

And they stated that UM is significantly different from the other three, but that LM, UF and LF are not significantly different from each other. What more do you want?


It sounds like if you slice the "everyone else" further you're only going to get more significant differences.


This is not an ambiguous phrasing; this is a standard way of writing the summary in prose. There is nothing remotely “suspicious” or “malevolent” here.

It clearly expresses that the only one of four categories whose callback rate rises to the level of statistical significance (presumably something like p < 0.05 of null hypothesis that all rates are the same) was the rate for high-class men. The reason the sentence doesn’t include the word “statistically” in the second half is that it would sound incredibly awkward, and is not necessary to repeat.


You can do the math here, https://abtestguide.com/calc/, and in any case it is at least very close to "statistical significance", depending on how you define it, that lower class men got fewer callbacks than lower class women.

But the point is that lower class men DID receive a lot fewer callbacks than higher class men, so clearly it is a mistake to attribute "male privilege" equally to both groups.


"close to statistical significance" is one of those phrases I dislike because it's almost designed to deceive. To the trained statistician it means "not statistically significant" but to the average reader it suggests there's something more there than there should be.

What we can safely say is that this study did NOT support the hypothesis that there is gender privilige for men within the lower classes in landing top law jobs, and that it would be interesting to repeat this study with a larger sample size.


While I agree with your conclusion, I have a problem that people think "statistically significant" is some sort of golden, binary rule, instead of "statistically significant at X% confidence level". It's not like 95% confidence level was ordained by God, and it leads to p-value hacking. I'd argue that if you come out at 94% or 96%, both of these warrant further study.


I largely agree with you regarding the popular view, but I wanted to point out that this article focuses on the gender "twist" because that is what is new in the research. The author of the article cites near the beginning an acclaimed book she previously wrote apparently focusing solely on class (http://press.princeton.edu/titles/10457.html).


I 100% agree and wish I could retweet this.


I got mono last year, and was out for longer than some of my female coworkers who had a child were. Same observation for one of my coworker who got in a snowboarding accident. I've also had several male coworkers leave because they wanted to devote themselves fully to their family.

This kind of observation ("high status women are more likely to leave for family reasons therefore it is an economically rational choice to prefer men, given equal skills") seems logical on the surface, but when you start looking into the nuances of real life it just doesn't hold.

I once had a CEO say directly to me: "honestly if one of my female employees got pregnant, i would take it personally. We're a startup, we can't afford people who do that". He had no problem pushing several great engineers to burnout and firing them when their productivity tanked though.


Do you have any data/studies besides an anecdote to show that this kind of observation does not hold in real life? All the data I've seen show that women do work part-time more often, work fewer hours (for example, for doctors: http://www.medscape.com/features/slideshow/compensation/2016...), take more vacations (http://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/2013/04/25/vacation-tra...), and take more sick days (http://www.hrzone.com/lead/culture/why-do-women-take-more-si...).


Someone posts a comment explicitly stating it's an observation from personal experience. Why on earth would that commenter have a study on hand?


Well, what the OP said is not as clear as you make to be.

He did give an anecdote as evidence, but the claim he was justifying was that:

> This kind of observation ("high status women are more likely to leave for family reasons therefore it is an economically rational choice to prefer men, given equal skills") seems logical on the surface, but when you start looking into the nuances of real life it just doesn't hold.

This is too strong a statement to be described as merely "stating it's an observation from personal experience".

Anyway, what's nice is that this is a forum and another commenter might answer with the data if such data/argument exists.


It's funny they you're getting downvoted while above you are there are several anecdotes that apparently do prove the plight of the poor white man.


The stats I've seen at a large diverse org doesn't agree. Women take more leaves, birth for maternity and elder care. They also have a higher rate of voluntary work schedule reduction.

I don't think that's a bad thing, but it's definitely a disincentive for people to move up. Modern workplaces have unnatural expectations for employee availability.

For white shoe law firms, I don't necessarily disagree that hiring wealthy candidates doesn't make sense to the business. If your client is some Rockefeller heir, being able to chat about squash, sailing and modern art has a value.


> For white shoe law firms, I don't necessarily disagree that hiring wealthy candidates doesn't make sense to the business. If your client is some Rockefeller heir, being able to chat about squash, sailing and modern art has a value.

When the industry as a whole makes a conscious effort to be more diverse in hiring, the short term incentive to put a thumb on the scale for the preferred background gradually disappears. For example, a third of all GCs and CLOs at F500 companies are now women. It makes little sense to put a thumb on the scale for men in that environment.


"I don't think that's a bad thing, but it's definitely a disincentive for people to move up. Modern workplaces have unnatural expectations for employee availability."

Is it a cause or is it an effect?


"I think that's a good thing"

"I might agree that hiring wealthy candidates makes sense to the business"

Just parsing out those double negatives for reference.


I'm a little wary of this kind of argument. Let's just accept the OP's premise for a second. If he's right that upper class women really are more likely to leave the workforce, would it make the discrimination acceptable? Personally I don't feel it would.


If corporations want to be prejudiced (because it serves their rational economic interests), you can't just stand there and say "well, they shouldn't want that then!" and expect the world to change. You've got to come up with a system or context in which being prejudiced isn't useful, so that (as rational actors) corporations stop wanting to be prejudiced.

And to do that, we first have to come to agreement, in the clear light of day, whether corporations do want that (potentially unacceptable) thing or not. Which seems to be a large problem in discussions like this: trying to talk about the way the world is butts up against people who want to talk only about the way the world should be, and don't want to acknowledge that you have to talk about both "before" and "after" if you want to get from one to the other.


> You've got to come up with a system or context in which being prejudiced isn't useful

That's usually regulation. Child labor is useful, no vacation time is useful and 16-hour days until your workers literally start dying is extremely useful. You would make a ton of money that way. There is no way you can spin the argument such that the company would always derive higher profits by taking the moral choice.


>There is no way you can spin the argument such that the company would always derive higher profits by taking the moral choice.

No, because it's nearly impossible to get even two people to always agree what the moral choice even is.

But your examples are fairly easy: all of them are clearly net negatives​ for society, and would only be profitable for companies if they don't pay the true costs of their behavior.

Child labour carries a huge opportunity cost for the child: it can't get proper education, potentially costing it millions in lifetime earnings. Given a lack of immediate financial pressure, the economically rational decision for a child would be to demand far higher pay than an equally skilled adult because the salary has to offset the labor cost.

Similar arguments can be made for working people to death and giving them no vacation, but the payment schemes become complicated. Luckily they are even easier to solve: if unemployment is an acceptable condition (little stigma, decent unemployment benefits, etc), then the pool of people willing to work such jobs vanishes.

Of course regulation also works. Sometimes​ it's the sensible option (much easier to outlaw child labour than to teach economics and long term thinking to small children). But it is always valuable to first check if we can fix the root causes of a complex problem before we start with medicating the symptoms.


I kind of feel it'd be dishonest for me to start arguing against discrimination with the rationale that diversity is good for companies because the fact is that I'd oppose it even if it were bad for them; the economic soundness or unsoundness is not the reason I oppose it.

Also, I'd point out that, in fact, market mechanisms did not work to stop abuses like child labor.


Child labor is probably better solved by paying kids for good grades in school. The ones getting an education would be less likely to divert effort to jobs that might take away from study time, even after they turn 18, while the ones who aren't getting an education anyway could at least gain some work experience and bring value to their families. This would also greatly reduce classroom disruption by "students" who are not actually learning.

For example: $1000/year for a D, $2000/year for a C, $4000/year for a B, $8000/year for an A. (probably better to use national test score percentile though)


Yeah, no kidding. The obvious one, which has a precedent, is making companies subject to legal penalties for discrimination.


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Yes, the word should be discrimination, but the point stands.


The point isn't that discrimination being rational makes it ok. The point is that if discrimination is irrational, the best way to fix it is different from the best solution if it were rational. It's an important factor in deciding how to best work towards equality.

If it's irrational, educating employers may be a great option. If it's rational, we probably need to level the playing field somehow (e.g. make it just as ok for dads to stay home as it is for moms or something).


Sweden tried that. They gave out 330 days of maternity + paternity leave. Women used 94% of it. So they had to make some of it "use it or lose it" for men only. Men started taking the bare minimum, so Sweden is planning to increase the "use it or lose it" portion.

http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2010/08/snack...

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/28/swedish-father...

Consider the possibility that maybe men just don't want to stay home as much as women, even if it's acceptable.


"Legally allowed" != "acceptable". I can't speak to Sweden directly, but Canada has (almost) gender-neutral parental leave laws and many industries/companies still consider it very unusual if a father wants to take more than three or four weeks off at the birth of a child. I have friends that explicitly told me they would have liked to stay home more, but weren't able to because they feared what would happen at work.


> I have friends that explicitly told me they would have liked to stay home more, but weren't able to because they feared what would happen at work.

For anyone in a competitive work environment who wants to get ahead, though, it's not surprising that someone would feel pressure to take less time off even if they had a very supportive employer. It seems kind of obvious to me that I would feel less "behind" in work if I took 4 weeks off instead of 8.


According to the slate article it's normal and socially accepted. Men still don't do it much.


If men don't do it then how is it normal for men to do it?


Most men don't deadlift much, but it isn't considered abnormal that I do so on a regular basis.

Most men don't sleep with other men, but that is again not considered abnormal or socialhttp unacceptable.


It's strange, I don't recognize that Sweden.

In computer-type jobs it's normal for men to take plenty of parental leave, and no stigma. Many work reduced work weeks too, right up until the youngest kid is 8 years old.

I know builders and such who do the same. And I've seen a few young female builders around too.

So I'm racking my brains trying to think what type of people in what type of job can be skewing the statistics.

Sweden is not a prejudice free country, but it's way better than Britian and, from the awful impression I've got from many short visits, the US.


I think you're jumping to several conclusions that could use additional research.

Presently the best we can say from the data is that men seem to take close to the bare minimum of required time off, so it makes sense to increase that time if the goal is men spending more time with the newborn and/or supporting their partner.

Another conclusion may be that while it it /legally/ acceptable, it is not yet socially acceptable.

Finally, maybe an alternative to that approach would be better. Something like a year where both parents are /required/ to be home taking care of the baby.


If you believe that only enlightened bureaucrats can properly make family decisions, and parents are incapable of doing so, that may indeed be good policy.

It may not surprise you that I would prefer to make my own choices.


Plenty of people want to make their own choices, but corporate culture imposes choices on them.

That does indeed make parents incapable of making family decisions.

Your mistake is in assuming that the legislation targets individuals.

It doesn't. It targets corporations that take advantage of individuals.


Corporate culture merely provides a choice. You can always quit your job if you dislike the choice offered.

Legislation does target individuals; it forbids me from choosing money over time. As a person with no desire to stay home for long periods, this directly harms me.


You can always quit your job if you dislike the choice offered.

Right, and find a job with completely different terms, which, uh, very likely doesn't exist.

This kind of "everything's a choice" BS really bugs me. There are plenty of situations where regulation is the only solution, and I suspect this is one of them. Since employers use willingness to work long hours as a signal of commitment/productivity, very few people get the choice to work shorter hours, even if almost everybody would be happier that way.


How does it forbid you? The law doesn't force you to take that time; it merely doesn't allow your partner to take it on your behalf.


I am not permitted to enter into a "more money, less leave" contract with a willing employer.


Women (fortunately or unfortunately) are not permitted these contracts either. It's not possible to promise chastity or childlessness or plead hysterectomy and get more money; the actual condition of one's reproductive equipment or desires is ignored and instead a broad bias ("she might leave!") is applied to all.


Right, but that's unrelated to the efforts to get men to take up more leave (increasing the "use it or lose it" for men), since even if the time was all usable by the mother, you couldn't enter into a contract renouncing it either. So I don't see how it's germane to the point you introduced earlier.


Yes, but fundamentally you don't understand the premises your interlocutors are starting from. Essentially, the view you're encountering is that a certain amount of vacation, parental leave, and related benefits are an intrinsic good and that nobody should be forced to choose between their career and, for instance, taking paternity leave. To someone with that view talking about losing the "choice" to forego these benefits for the sake of your career is pointless in much the same way it'd be pointless for me to appeal to the Bible in an ethical debate with an atheist.


And you can always get another job during the time you are on leave.


>Something like a year where both parents are /required/ to be home taking care of the baby.

That solves the problem (?) that men spend less time with the newborn, but I have my doubts that it solves discrimination problems. Employers would just start hiring people who are less likely to have children (big data will make that even easier) and discourage their employees from getting families and thus children. Now the discrimination is just shifted around instead of removed, and on top of that it decreases the already low birth rate.


Maybe I phrased it poorly. Being ok or acceptable isn't exactly what I meant re: leveling the playing field. Maybe it needs to be expected or something. I wouldn't expect something so cultural to balance out in under a generation anyways. Culture takes time (and sometimes it just takes new people).

The point wasn't the example of paternity leave anyhow. The point is that some kind of leveling would need to happen if we want to equalize on some rational form of discrimination.


If its so irrational, why do non-irrational companys not wipe irrational companys from the face of the earth?


Has any company ever tried being non-irrational?

I highly recommend Misbehaving by Richard Thaler, particularly the chapter of the American football draft in this instance.


If it's irrational but companies are inherently irrational then the result is the same as if it's rational and companies are rational, right? Either way you need something beside the Invisible Hand if you hope to solve the problem.


'Rational' has a specific meaning in economics; on the weak end, it means an oddly strong knowledge of probability and game theory, while at the strong end it means completely prescient.

Outside of some limited cases, such as small groups of economists, there is no evidence that anyone, anywhere, had behaved 'rationally'.


What I'm saying is that question isn't even really material to the discussion at hand. Either discrimination is rational and rational economic actors are discriminating, or else it's irrational and irrational economic actors are discriminating (or else maybe it's rational and irrational economic actors are acting rationally for irrational reasons, or whatever combination of the two you like). Either way the market will not fix the problem without intervention.


Sure, I get your objection from an epistemological perspective; I don't disagree. The thing is that then you wouldn't be comparing "upper class women" vs the rest of the workforce. You should be comparing upper class women in their 30s vs upper class women in their 50s vs men who smoke vs single men in their 20s vs ...

In that case you might find that upper class women in their 30s are indeed more likely to leave the workforce than single men in their 20s, but less likely than men in their 50s. At that point, the "economically rational" argument becomes to only hire single men in their 20s, which I guess is what Silicon Valley does.


This reminds me of this: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13805665

I dislike employment anti-discrimination laws. They probably worked better for manual labor and other commodity jobs. A compromise would be to limit them to these kinds of jobs.


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That would only be true if abortion and plan b were always accessible and economical.


> FYI, men don't ever make the decision to have a child. Men only make the decision to have sex.

Some men are married.


Just so you know, sometimes when women leave for "family reasons", it is because they are sick of putting up with the bullshit of discrimination while trying to balance a career with raising a family. This problem is more of a self fulfilling prophecy than chicken-and-egg.


> these high-status women might be more likely to take up a domestic role because they're being discriminated against in the first place

You almost quoted him.


Replacing 'might be' with 'are' is a significant difference.


I think it's generally better to propose hypotheses if you're not backing up your assertions with data.


> Just so you know, sometimes when women leave for "family reasons", it is because they are sick of putting up with the bullshit

No discrimination necessary. Every job has bullshit for everyone. An engineer friend got a new boss she doesnt like and her project manager job is stressful, and not what she likes (engineering), but the only way up the career ladder. She now thinks about getting kids as a way out.


> while trying to balance a career with raising a family.

As if men don't have this problem...


I suppose it's more socially acceptable that the men neglect the family. (Speculation:) Or men tend to neglect more ?


I definitely think it's more socially acceptable. It's just another annoying gender stereotype.

But to me the problem is companies working employees too long. Salary before meant putting in your 9-5 and leaving early on Fridays. Now if I don't put in 12 hours a day I look bad. If I do I look average.


Life often gives you a series of small choices that amount to preferring your career or your family. Different people choose differently and it adds up over time.

This choice is not gender neutral, we can see clear differences - and this shows up in all kinds of places, choice of profession being one of them; taking time off for family - another.


Define neglect. Ensuring the family is provided for is the very opposite of neglect.


I find it economically irrational to exclude or bias against half the talent pool on the frankly ridiculous basis that they might leave later. Everyone leaves later anyway and these events occur beyond the time horizon of anyone hiring at your startup and/or bigco.

And yet hiring managers (of all genders) continue to suffer from this bias. I've always just chalked it up to an excuse for sexism.


In fact this is a reason to be skeptical of this kind of discrimination argument.

If the wage gap is happening and is really so drastic, if women are being undervalued so hard, etc, then there should be a massive Moneyball-style opportunity for people to start companies that correct this error. With the advantages you'd gain by adjusting hiring, you'd completely trounce the competition.

This hasn't happened yet though. Either people are being slow to do it, or the wage situation is not as straightforward as it is being put in these arguments.


In Moneyball, if your team can play good baseball, you win.

If you hire an all-female sales staff, and each employee is technically better in every way than average men, but your customers simply do not want to be sold to by women, then it doesn't matter how good the women are, how many extra skills they have that aren't priced into the market, you will fail.

That's the thing with systematic bias: it's systematic.

That all said, there is still a way to capture the moneyball-style giant pile of cash (and yes, I do believe it is there. There's one for black people too, and every group we think is less employable for certain jobs than white men):

You have to create a feminist company and a feminist market and spin them up simultaneously.

The reason this doesn't happen all the time is it's much harder to create a 2-sided market than a 1-sided one.

And frankly, due to the systemic nature of sexism, a 2-sided market probably isnt enought. You really need to create an n-sided market. You need suppliers and partners and sister companies and clients all on the same page, at least to the extent that your interface with those organizations is human-rich enough to permit sexism.

This is the same reason why anarchist (property-free) businesses have been hard to create, even though the fundamentals should be more efficient than a capitalist company. For it to work you need to spin up n-anarchist companies at once so they can feed off each other. Instead people try to create them one by one, so they fail. They are chewed up by the fundamentally antagonistic world around them... Same as pro-women organizations are.

It's a hard startup problem, but we are getting good at solving those. I wouldn't bet against this being solved within 20 years, at least in proof of concept.


Most jobs are not in sales, so regardless of whether this is true, it only applies to a minority of positions. (Though I have no numbers, in my experience sales is the one area where there are lots of women in tech companies, as well as in some other industries like pharmaceuticals.)

I don't know that you can blame anything on "the fundamentally antagonistic world" since all businesses face a fundamentally antagonistic world and their goal is to overcome that.


Many non-sales jobs follow the same pattern, including law firms discussed in the original article.

One could certainly imagine a law firm matching their hiring practices to the prejudices of their clients, and having this actually be the rationally optimal strategy, i.e. the impact on customer relationships is larger than the inefficiency of rejecting many otherwise good candidates.

It would make sense if your lawyers roughly mirrored the demographics of your customers - having the same social values, regions, schools, hobbies, accents as your customers do. And customers of the expensive law firms are quite different from the general population.


The one example you chose (sales) was bad because competence in sales is only in the ability to sell. So if women are having trouble selling, then they are objectively worse at that that job, which is not the discrimination everyone is trying to stop.

Take software engineering instead as an example, you should be able to hire an all women team of top engineers by paying regular market salaries. There would be no downside and all upside if the gap between male and females of the same skill level is true.


Why do you think it hasn't happened? In the tech sector, I've anecdotally observed differential success for those that foster a hiring strategy offsetting bias w.r.t the talent pool.


That's not the case for partner-track positions at white shoe law firms.


Yes. To phrase it differently, if we have trained a perfectly rational AI, it may make the same (biased) decisions against women based on past statistics (percentage of women leaving full-time jobs) and assumption in reasoning (family responsibility affecting career performance) as you described.

To change the decision would require changing either the statistics or the assumption in reasoning.


We are part of society, so I hope we don't "trained a perfectly rational AI" but train something that operates within constraints that we agree upon as a society.

A "perfectly rational AI" might also kill of disabled people as unproductive, but we as a society will need to introduce bounds and constraints and objectives in line with our human values.


Reasoning that can also justify eugenics or other heinous stuff.


The opposite reasoning justifies "Harrison Bergeron".



No, assuming that the goal of your perfectly rational AI is to maximize profits, you can change the decision by adding a disincentive for choosing against women.

Which is what governments usually do.


The same rationale could be marshaled to argue that discrimination against the disabled and older workers should be allowed. Should it?


But no where in my comment did I argue that the discrimination should be allowed, and, on the contrary, I believe exactly the opposite.

My main point is that sometimes discrimination is not economically irrational. If that's true, but we as a society think that these forms of discrimination are still bad, we need to come up with better, stronger solutions to make sure discrimination of this sort doesn't happen.


What you're really saying is that it's rational to be selfish and short-termist. In the long run, everyone benefits if women have the same employment opportunities as men. Women benefit, because duh, men benefit because their female relatives don't depend on them, employers benefit because they have a wider pool of talent to choose from, society benefits because unemployment falls and higher-quality employment rises, and so on, so forth.

The "rationality" you are talking about is false rationality. It's rationalisation- an excuse that people tell themselves to justify their inability to give up on the prejudice they've been taught.


men benefit because their female relatives don't depend on them

This is true in a strictly material sense but it may not be true from a social/cultural/identity perspective. Traditional masculine identity at its very core is about being the root of the tree: the one your family depends on. Today, fewer and fewer men are in that situation. There are countless articles out there about men's withdrawal from the workforce. More and more women are getting college degrees and the gap over men is growing. Women with a college degree rarely date, let alone marry, men without a degree.

I'll be the first to say I don't automatically want life to go back to the way it was in the 50's. I just can't claim that everybody benefits equally from the new world order. Honestly, I don't know what we as a society ought to do about men who have checked out because they feel that life has left them behind.


>> Women with a college degree rarely date, let alone marry, men without a degree.

I have no idea to what extent that's true, but let's say it's 100% correct.

The obvious thing to do is to make sure as many men as women have degrees. Ideally, that would mean _all_ men (and therefore, all women).

Of course, we could equalise the numbers by making it so fewer women get degrees but that's retrograde and unproductive. Although it does seem to me that sometimes, that's what people are asking for, when they say "more and more women get degrees these days" like it was a bad thing.

>> Honestly, I don't know what we as a society ought to do about men who have checked out because they feel that life has left them behind.

Make sure they get an education every bit as good as that available to men from more privileged backgrounds and create the environment and the opportunities for them to have a fulfilling and rewarding working life.


The obvious thing to do is to make sure as many men as women have degrees. Ideally, that would mean _all_ men (and therefore, all women).

There are still quite a few very important jobs out there which do not​ need a degree (such as the trades). There are also lots of men who don't want to spend the time or the money on a degree, especially if they can get one of these jobs.

For various reasons, women aren't going for these jobs much at all. Women, moreso than men, seem to operate on the basis that a degree is the only path to a successful life.

Overall, it just seems like large numbers of women and men have inadvertently decided to go their separate ways. I don't know what the end result of this will be, but it sure seems lonely to me.


> It's rationalisation- an excuse that people tell themselves to justify their inability to give up on the prejudice they've been taught.

The fact that there was such a large, significant difference between high status men and low status men, but on the other hand low status women had 5 times the callbacks of low status men, strongly suggests you are incorrect.


>In the long run, everyone benefits if women have the same employment opportunities as men. Women benefit, because duh, men benefit because their female relatives don't depend on them, employers benefit because they have a wider pool of talent to choose from, society benefits because unemployment falls and higher-quality employment rises, and so on, so forth.

There is a lot of handwaving here.

>Women benefit, because duh,

Certainly on one specific variable it's an improvement, but is it a benefit, all things considered? One of the things I find interesting about this is: I don't want to work at a white shoe law firm! I have no desire for 90-hr weeks, suffering culture, etc. And in general, women don't either. Can you blame them?

"But I'm not talking about forcing them, just offering them the choice. They don't have to take it." Absolutely true, and in general they've decided: hell no. "But that's because of discrimination..." which occurs because of that choice. How do you impose economic equality and freedom of choice if people make different choices?

White shoe law firms aren't happy with this: they'd keep employees locked in forever if they could. Maybe they have some horrible nightmare good reason for this that makes it work for them, I'm not a white shoe law firm. But the way they function apparently requires high-class workaholics. As long as that that's true, you will find difference ("equity" is a retarded and reductive concept. Men and women will only ever be equal if you see them as income numbers rather than men and women. I weigh 165 pounds. Am I equal with a 165-lb weight? How about a 165-lb version of me that doesn't know how to program and went into sales instead?).

>men benefit because their female relatives don't depend on them,

Imagine a world where no one depends on Google. Does Google benefit? This obviously has some troubling connotations and it's a more complex situation, but that's exactly my point. You're handwaving like this is elementary arithmetic ("Does the number on one income statement match the other?"), and oh it's so obvious what the real rationality is, how do these sexists talk themselves into these contrived beliefs, when you're dealing with complex phenomena.

Not all is well at prestigious law firms. Not all is well in the tech sector. But they will only get worse if you add reductionist thinking to the mix.


> employers benefit because they have a wider pool of talent to choose from

The OP was arguing that women have a lower expected work output over their career at a company, which is why "economically rational" was used.

So the employers would technically be better off hiring a male over a female with the same skills.


>> The OP was arguing that women have a lower expected work output over their career at a company, which is why "economically rational" was used.

I was disagreeing with that on the basis that only looking at your bottom line when trying to decide what is "economically rational" is short-termist and self-defeating, because everyone benefits from living in a society where women have the opportunity to be as productive as men- and that includes employers who don't have to look at the gender of candidates to make a decision.

The benefits may be harder to measure, but that's why rationality is required, rather than rationalisation of unjustifiable bias ("women have lower expected work output").

The genuinely rational thing to do is to try and ensure that both women and men are equally productive, as workers.


"Economically rational" refers to the benefits and drawbacks that apply to whoever is making the decision, not to the benefits and drawback that apply to society as a whole.

If you want law firms to make their hiring decisions differently, then you have to change the incentives and rules that apply to them, not make false claims that they're being irrational.


Value investors might happily pay ~10-20% higher labor costs to have an inclusive culture that lasts rather than an on edge precarious culture.

Being a churn-and-burn testosterone fest is starting to look like it might have some negative long term consequences.


This analysis isn't sound. Doubling the supply of labor has drastically driven down the price of labor. While that's good for employers, it's questionable whether or not things are better for employees with so much competition for good jobs.


I don't think that's really the case. Considering specifically maternity leave, a newborn just flat-out needs its mother in the first several months after birth. The father is helpful, but not essential. So if a company is making a hiring decision based on the need for family leave, it is neither short-term thinking nor irrational to choose the man.

We're finally deciding as a society that this sort of discrimination is bad, so we need to provide an economic incentive to make it a rational choice for the company to equally weigh a man and woman.


We should also combat the meme that mothers are more essential than fathers. Babies benefit ("need" is a strong word here) from breastfeeding, but all other functions can be performed by fathers just as well. It's also important to note that mothers benefit from rest and support in the months following a delivery. So treating fatherhood as expendable is technically correct if you ignore a lot of practical realities, but we don't exactly treat mothers that use formula as expendable.


In the UK where I live and work, men get paternity leave and if I understand correctly it's meant to be as long as maternity leave, exactly so that there is no room for excuses about how women need to be away from work after having children whereas men don't.

Additionally, businesses get money from the state to pay the wages of their employers on maternity leave, and I think (hope) they do the same for fathers.

I believe other European countries also have similar arrangements in place.


This is true for commodity jobs. It would be nice to have employers realize that sometime there is a better-qualified woman -- like, one who would do better work -- and that maternity leave is a very short part of a long career.


Not actually true since scientists invented this magical thing thing called formula decades ago that is by all accounts almost as good as the real thing.


Fair enough. When you put it that way I agree completely.


Everyone is up in arms about female discrimination, when really it is the lower-class men who are discriminated against the most.


I'm going to take the outre position that both gender and class discrimination are bad.


The differences in callback rates were not statistically different between the women and the lower class men. The only statistically significant different was higher class men and everyone else.


I didn't do the stats on it, but just looking at the graph in the article 5 times as many lower class women received callbacks than lower class men. What was the p-value on that?


Instead of "5 times as many" look as "a difference of 4 samples" - in an environment where the expected sampling noise is something like +/- 4.

"Statistically insignificant" means just that - this data is not sufficient to conclusively say if lower class women receive less callbacks than lower class men; maybe they do, maybe they don't.


Does that criticism make sense given that the title of the article and opening paragraphs talk about the class disparity, and only get to the major gender disparity in the middle of the article?


I'm not the person you're replying to, so I can't say what they were thinking when they wrote their comment. I'm choosing though to read their comment as referring to the larger social context, rather than this specific article. I would note however that this article is classified under the category "Gender" in the Harvard Business Review.


The study really didn't get into a comparison of people that didn't put any extracurricular activities on their resume. We don't know if the extracurricular activities themselves hurt or helped the candidates compared to people that don't put any in.


I don't understand one thing though - Why doesn't she talk about the fact that according to their own survey, lower class women were also 5 times more likely to get a callback than lower class men.

So while upper class men have it the best, lower class men have it the worst. But the author seems to be ignoring this entirely.


Well, the conventional wisdom says that recruitment at top law firms selects for candidates in the upper class. This article is saying we should adjust that; it selects for upper class men, and women are not benefited by hinting at higher status.

Since that's what the article about, and since it's not about women being universally discriminated against in law, I think it's fair they don't point out that lower class women have it better than lower class men. Although that result is somewhat surprising, it's not what the article is about. The investigation behind that result would possibly warrant another article.


Because that difference wasn't statistically significant, as noted in the image in the article.


IDK, maybe something called confidence intervals?


Why did that deserve a downvote? The difference between lower class men and women in that study was small,and I doubt that difference would meet a p=.05 confidence threshold. When it was said that lower class men are 4 times less likely than lower class women to be invited to interview this was an overstatement of the confidence we can extrapolate these results to the population. But hey,if that wasn't clearly inferred by my comment, so be it.


You most likely got downvoted for being snarky and condescending, not for pointing out the that the difference doesn't meet the confidence threshold. Your follow-up is better because it at least provides a fully encapsulated response, but you still have some snark in your tone. When replying try not to imply that other commenters are stupid.


If I'm reading correctly, there wasn't a p-value for the upper middle class men vs women either


Maybe they thought focusing on it would generate less clicks.


Sailing is a very stereotypical rich man's sport, and track & field is perfect for the poor (low equipment and facilities costs). So it's no surprise the research used these. But they are saddled with a confounding factor: participant age.

The person reviewing your resume will likely be over 30 years old, maybe over 40. And they probably have more money than you. This makes it more likely that they participate in sailing or golf and less likely that they do track & field.

You may benefit from sharing an interest with your hiring manager or recruiter, and maybe it just happens they like things enjoyed by adults with money. Rather than judging you because you like cheap stuff.

A rich man's sport that doesn't favor older folks so much is crew (rowing). That would have been a better choice than sailing IMO.


> "The person reviewing your resume will likely be over 30 years old, maybe over 40. And they probably have more money than you. This makes it more likely that they participate in sailing or golf and less likely that they do track & field."

This isn't an error in the study in my opinion, it's a reason why discrimination happens, which you've highlighted. People are more likely to hire someone like them, who they can relate to. It's the same category as "culture fit". It's something that people hiring need to consciously be aware of and account for. That's a very reasonable conclusion from this.


Each time I've lived near a harbor, there was a nonprofit sailing club where you could join for $100/year or so, take classes, participate in friendly races, sign out boats for a couple hours for fun, and volunteer maintaining them. Usually had full scholarships for underprivileged kids, and totally affordable fees for middle class families.

It's kind of concerning that when I talk about sailing, people read that as a signal that anyone in my family is rich enough to own and maintain a boat.


Cycling would have been an interesting choice. Barriers to entry are relatively low, and it is plenty popular with middle aged people. At least in Australia.


The clues may be less subtle and still affect employers decisions. I've read thousands of resumes and I always get frustrated when I can read more into the resume than may have been intended. Membership in the "hundred black men" or the "Aidan American student organization" provides me with information I would prefer not to know. Ideally when I review a resume I only want to know whether or not I think you might be qualified and worth wasting time on a phone call. Providing that information makes it harder for me to pretend that I am hiring blindly.

The idea that there are even more subtle clues is fascinating. When hiring engineers, such clues have remained entirely subliminal to me. There must be some but honestly it wouldn't have occurred to me that there is a class difference between those interested in sailing and those who like track and field. I would probably guess that a track athlete would get along better in my company. Perhaps we are just low class.


> I always get frustrated when I can read more into the resume than may have been intended. Membership in the "hundred black men" or the "A[si]an American student organization" provides me with information I would prefer not to know.

Would you resent a resume from an applicant named "Mengying Zhou"? Would that carry less information than membership in the Asian American student association? I claim it carries more.


It's impractical to not mention your name; it's trivially easy to not mention membership in a student organization. As such, including the membership signals 'I want you to know this' in a way the name doesn't.


Recent graduates are encouraged to mention involvement in student organizations when applying to jobs; leadership roles in those organizations might speak well of a candidate. People might also put this information on a résumé because they want to work somewhere where they know they will be welcome. I am a teacher and I would certainly mention on my résumé that I am the faculty advisor for the Gender/Sexuality Alliance (even if applying to an engineering position). I am proud of my involvement as faculty advisor, and I also would not want to work somewhere where my sexuality would be considered any sort of liability.

Rather than expect applicants to take measures to whitewash their résumés (which also gives an advantage to those applicants whose extracurriculars are already "generic," i.e. upper-class and white), it seems we should be educating employers to be aware of their biases when reading these résumés, and teaching strategies for overcoming them.


That sounds naive to me. How would you react if you had to decide about a resume and get one perfectly qualified listing a leadership role in a conservative/republican student organisation, like Young Americas Foundations which opposes mandatory lgbt sensitivity training? Would you think "what a great way to overcome my own biases!" or would you not prefer a resume aligning more with your views/background?


I can't speak for the exact source of jimmyswinny's frustration, but it seems to me that when you can be sued for discriminatory hiring policies your best defense is to never have had that information at all (no means => unsuccessful lawsuit).

Someone who deliberately and unnecessarily provides that information unasked for is puncturing that protection.

Now, I don't hire people, but this seems to me like a perfectly rational reason to be annoyed to know your applicants sexuality that has little to do with personal bias.


Instead of relying on applicant's to redact information that you don't want to see, why not have someone go through all of the applications and redact that information? You could even go as far as redacting information such as the applicant's name that it wouldn't be practical for the applicant to redact on their own.


Names can be blacked out as a matter of company policy; extracurriculars, not so much.


Why not?


This makes total sense. If you're high class, you're going to yield more business for the firm if for no other reasons than deep social connections to people who can afford to buy the firm's product.

If you're a woman, statistically you're more likely to work for the firm for a brief time before you retiring to being a wife in your late 20’s or early 30’s - a huge sunk cost for an elite firm that invests heavily in its employees.

If the firms were outright discriminating against someone unjustly due to some kind of shadowy and insidious patriarchy or class hierarchy preservation desire, they would get crushed in the free market for making systematically wrong decisions. But given that they're the top 5% law firms, it looks like their heuristics are correct - high class males are more often than not going to make them a ton more money than other groups.


So what you're saying is that the market system in which we operate promotes and rewards gender discrimination even among people who wouldn't discriminate otherwise.

So you agree with the concept of patriarchy in feminist theory.


You can't avoid market forces. You might disagree with gravity but you're still going to fall to the ground after jumping.

If you're suggesting that laws be created to satisfy a personal fantasy, you must realize you're unavoidably advocating for creating artificial market effects which put law firms out of business and increase prices for other law firms, putting their availability further out of reach of poor people, and women.


>If you're a woman, statistically you're more likely to work for the firm for a brief time before you retiring to being a wife in your late 20’s or early 30’s - a huge sunk cost for an elite firm that invests heavily in its employees.

Surely that would be perfect for a law firm? If they left after the first year, yeah that would be bad, but the engine-room of a law firm is made up of the senior associates. It would be ideal for the partners if some of them were to leave just as they were to come up for partner.


I don't see any subtle cues here. An important skill for a lawyer is to know how to present facts in the most favorable light. Take the study's James Clark. He won a "University award for outstanding athletes on financial aid", but it would be just as accurate for him to say simply that he won a "University award for outstanding athletes". Why not mention financial aid? Because it's not something that makes him a better lawyer. It doesn't serve the purpose of the resume. I can just see someone reading the resume and imagining all the dumb things James would write in a court filing and what the result to the client would be.


That sounds plausible enough - except the authors also undertook a follow-up study to determine the cause of the difference. The attorneys they surveyed could have pointed to a lack of competence displayed in the resume writing, as you suggest. Instead, they identified culture fit as the distinguishing factor.


"culture fit" really has become the code of our time for "looks funny / speaks differently / isn't the same as us".


I suspect a naive applicant might think that demonstrating he required financial aid, and thus made good despite coming from a poor background, would have demonstrated that he's a better choice than someone who had it much easier but achieved the same results. He must surely be a harder worker and/or smarter.

For better or for worse, though, it turns out these law firms (as many firms) like to hire people the same as themselves so much that it can swamp their liking to hire based on ability. Which is short-sighted on their part, really; a smart, hard worker could be taught to blend in with these people in a month, someone would struggle to learn how to be smart and industrious in a month.


You really think that after spending ~20 years of your life with a working-class background, you can learn to fit in with a bunch of rich people in a month? I’m extremely skeptical that I would be able to develop the cultural habits to fit in with e.g. a bunch of truck drivers even after driving a truck for a month.


In the office and at a handful of employment social functions, yes. If you wanted to fit in with a bunch of truck drivers, driving a truck for a month wouldn't do it at all. It would have to be active study and practice of fitting in; not truck driving.

Speech patterns and accent, gestures and mannerisms, dressing the same, hair cut and shaving, appropriate topics of conversation and the correct opinions to offer on those subjects, experiences to pretend to have had and fraudulent stories about those experiences, pastimes to pretend to engage in outside the office and another handful of fraudulent stories about them. Food to like, how to eat it, places to say you've eaten that food before. Confidence tricksters are all about this. People see what they expect to see and mentally discount things that don't fit.

Inside a law office (and indeed, anywhere else), to fit in as a fresh graduate, there is nothing apart from how you look, how you talk, and what you talk about (and as a fresh grad, you'd actually have the genuine level of legal knowledge expected, so there'd be no problem getting by on the actual work).

Fortunately, we are to a large extent who we pretend to be. Say something enough times, you'll start to believe it. Start getting it right and pretty soon you won't be pretending to fit in anymore.


I'd posit that young tech companies have similar problems, even if the particulars are different than law firms.


"cultural fit"


Yeah, like that one.


The good thing about tech is that professional interview is more important than the HR interview. No matter how bad a tech interview can be - non technical professions have it worse

why do CV's even have an 'extracurricular activities'/'Personal interests' section? (asking because i never had one in my CV) Is this exclusive to first job applicants? another question: is having no awards better than having 'low class awards' ?

(Ah, got it: they are looking for signs of a first impression bias - these biases are likely to play a role during the interview process (given that these biases exist) )


I'm guessing it has that stuff because they're fresh law school grads and have virtually no real job experience, so you gotta fill the page and fill out their picture of you with something. Most people I know with professional careers have more trouble figuring out what to shorten and cut out to keep it to 2 pages.


As a person who did just a little bit of hiring for small projects: to find people who are energetic and take matters in their own hands.


that means i shouldn't mention hobbies in the CV unless i am in mountaineering, is that right?


Lawyers at these firms don't really do anything like an "HR interview", they're being interviewed by partners in the business for fit.


It shows if you have a hinterland it helps with the airport test


If I received a resume from a collegiate track person I would probably google them out of curiousity to see how fast they were, and in this case I would realize it's a fake name and resume, I wonder if that had any effect on the results


Concerns I have, quite possibly addressed in the actual research but seemingly not in an admittedly fast read of the article:

The advice seems to be "don't include things that hint you might be low class (in some situations, at least)" - but did they actually include that data point in their analysis? Maybe a lack of class clues is treated as lower class as well.

Second, the athletic component of the "lower-class combo" involves competing against a smaller pool of other students, and might rightly be seen as less impressive. If you're in the top 10 of all students, you're clearly also in the top 10 of those on financial aid.

Third, pretty much all of the "lower-class combo" involves quite a few more words. I'd be a little surprised if that had a big impact, but I sometimes find myself surprised by the weird shit we react to.


I think the differences between gender are fascinating.

Upper class women are not selected for interviews because there is a perception that they won't be as committed, implying they might get married and stay home with the kids.


It's not just kids, is it? That's too middle brow at these firms. It's perfectly acceptable for a woman to graduate from the firm to be a full-time "socialite" or join the charity circuit. "Playboy" is about as close as it gets for a man, and not nearly as acceptable.

It's a different kind of sexism, but a higher-class one.


You could say that of a male who can afford to play polo - that signals a lot a family wealth - therefor they don't need your white shoe job as much.


If, as the saying goes, women marry upwards, then the bias could also be explained by how attainable they're perceived to be.

edit: Lol. My goodness, HN does not like that idea much.


If the idea is that men are trying to hire women they can marry then you should probably take into account the fact that cross-class marriages have become very uncommon.


I think it's an idea worthy of some discussion. Perhaps companies destined to mint a raft of 10x-millionaires would show different hiring trends--although I recognize the extreme difficulty of gathering adequate clean data.


I'm sorry?


What?


Pretty fascinating finding! Interesting related book if anyone is interested: Hillbilly Elegy. It's a personal memoir that extensively discusses the struggles of working class whites, particularly Scots-Irish/hillbillies. It helped me understand our last election better, as well.


So, if I pretend to be interested in Polo or golf, the chances of getting a better salary increase. Check.


You just provided a subtle clue about your gender.


>You just provided a subtle clue about your gender.

Wait till they talk to me on the phone. That will be a huge clue.

I've always been fascinated with sailing but have never done it, so I'm going to put that in my interests next time I update my resume.

I will need to remember to remove competitive spitting.


Better yet, instead of going with a Mr/Mrs/Miss prefix, we should prepend our names with "Captain"



Maybe the interviewers bias resume selection to their own profiles. Because most people come from elite families, mostly people from elite families get interviewed.


Sometimes the most interesting data point is right out in the open and nobody notices. The author thinks they understand what desirable is, and wrote a paper about gender and class WRT to those closely held beliefs that I'm sure is very interesting. However the truly interesting data point is almost nobody is getting callbacks, failure rates varying from 99% to merely in the 90th percentile.

We're not exactly talking about manned space missions where a 99% mission failure rate wouldn't be tolerated. Or imagine if 99% of aircraft landings ended in a fireball. We're talking about the small details of a system that on a large scale is a miserable failure.

The author thinks they found the golden boy who everyone loves, but the reality is virtually everybody is uninterested in those people.

I would theorize if I had 400 people with medical dwarfism apply to the NBA to be pro basketball centers and then I abused the heck out of SPSS or R I could eventually find a correlation between average skin color and callback rates or perhaps maternal income and callback rates or presence of the father during childhood or whatever. I'm sure it would be an absolutely fascinating paper. But don't miss the forest for the trees, the real story is the people at the NBA who hire pro basketball players hire approximately rounded down to zero people under 4 feet in height, so even if they're subtlety or not so subtlety biased about various demographic characteristics of dwarves, it really doesn't matter because they don't hire dwarves to begin with. Of the people they intensely and strongly dislike and will not hire, they dislike certain demographics slightly less, but virtually all of them are still disliked enough to have approximately zero chance of being hired anyway so it doesn't matter.

Its like asking a Catholic convent of nuns what they like to see in a male applicant, and they respond they slightly prefer Catholic male applicants over, say, Jewish male applicants. Which superficially sounds like an incredible religious discrimination scandal, until you point out that Catholic nun convents accept essentially zero male applicants anyway, so ... if a discrimination tree falls in a forest and no one hears it ...


The lack of callbacks can be for all sorts of reasons, but I'd speculate that a lot of the employers simply tried to do a really quick validation check (name, school affiliation, etc.) that may even be automated and upon realizing that the individual is made up didn't call back.

I think that this experiment indirectly showed how ineffective "cold-calling" via resume-dropping really is for even highly qualified individuals (although they'd have to do it with other industries perhaps for better validity, for example). Meanwhile, I'm sure callback rates are probably higher for industries with no shortage of demand for highly qualified individuals such as software engineering. Law and medicine are a bit overwhelmed with more students than there are jobs for them last I heard.


Just to add a bit of context, here's a NY Times article from 2005: "Many Women at Elite Colleges Set Career Path to Motherhood."

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/20/us/many-women-at-elite-col...

Among the well-heeled, the MRS degree is not quite dead.


If I saw "University athletics award" on one resume and "University athletics award for someone on financial aid" on another - I am going to be thinking less, one of these persons is lower-class and more Why the heck is the latter one almost going out of its way to be more wordy?

I would find the former more succinct and might intuit that this person were better at expressing the essence of information. I'm not saying there isn't bias but I'm not convinced that you can distill the conclusion to purely class. People are complex and any attempt to fake a resume is going to trigger spidey senses. Again I'm sure class-bias is there, but just questioning this study's approach.


Who puts hobbies on a resume anyway? Who the fuck cares?


You'd be surprised how much having certain activities in common can push you over the edge as a candidate.

It helped me get my first job offer after college. I didn't know the common activity was so essential to getting the CTOs approval until a coworker told me after I had the job for a while.


It's much more common for new graduates, who after all don't have a long work history to cite.


usually people put activities/achievements on resumes, not just hobbies.

often they can indicate positive traits- passion, involvement, ownership, leadership, responsibility, etc..

certainly a good idea to list activities and achievements that come from 'hobbies' on your resume.


That's the thing, though, isn't it? Being on a vestry, for instance, is a leadership role, but it also reveals a lot about the candidate that isn't really relevant and may prejudice the hiring person's judgment.


If you like skiing, and so does your potential boss, guess what?


You'll be picking up some of his duties while he goes to Aspen?


What?


Rapport.


It depends on the job and hobby. If you're applying for a developer job at a bank than listing photography as a hobby is a waste of space. But if you're applying for a job at a photo sharing site then it can't hurt.


More people in the world, in whichever field, are hired because someone likes them than because of merit.

Example: why do you think you always have the same people getting multiple board seats for prominent companies? It's a small group of people who bond over similar interests and look out for each other. Merit, more often than not, has nothing to do with it.


If the hobby involves something that the company does, listing it can indicate that you might be a more useful or versatile employee.

For example, if I was applying for a programming job working on the billing system at a company that does electronics, I could add a hobbies section to my resume and list there that I have an extra class amateur radio license.

That would let them know that I probably know something about electronics. That's not relevant at all to working on the billing system, but it would let them know that I might also be able to work on other programming tasks they might have that do need a knowledge of electronics (for example, working on diagnostics software for their service technicians).


So nothing's changed, the status quo remains the most important thing. Shocking. As to why, politics and the love of power. Nothing new.


I worked for Miss Lilly Pulitzer once. She was intolerable. The imperious demeanor, the unwillingness to listen to reason, the papered-over cluelessness, it did not work out well. Never again!

Here's a fun thought: elsethread age discrimination is discussed. If an employer shouldn't be allowed to discriminate by age, should they be allowed to discriminate by class?


[flagged]


So what's the claim here? If an employer wants to hire only white men (and no hardscrabble backgrounds, please) regardless of qualifications that should just be allowed? That we should have a permanent underclass instead?


I can understand that underprivileged people has to be educated in order to be able to compete. That's why I support quotas for them in universities. But, why is this needed at work? Shouldn't this be solved by the market? If a company only hires white men then you should be at a competitive disadvantage against another company that can chose the best workers from other backgrounds too. Or is this an admission that white men actually perform better than the rest? I don't think so, but maybe the ones who write the policies do.


Did you read the article you're commenting on? There are far fewer of these positions than there are applicants and if employers across the board just don't think kids with the "wrong" socioeconomic background are gonna fit in the market isn't going to fix the problem. It seems hard to argue that this is all about merit when the only difference between the hypothetical candidates in the study are class markers and gender.


Parent to your comment is arguing that other law firms should be able to see that highly qualified talent is being undervalued, and those firms would then come in to get that talent to be at an advantage.

I don't necessarily agree, but note this Malcolm Gladwell argues in Outliers that this is exactly what happened to Jewish lawyers in NY in the mid 20th century. White shoe firms wouldn't hire the Jewish lawyers, so they started their own firms and focused on "distained" but ultimately highly lucrative areas of law.


I understood that but I think it is not that likely. What the article describes is that these kids get shunted into less lucrative areas of practice instead.

Also I'm pretty suspicious of Gladwell. He spins a good yarn but his work is less than rigorous.


The same story happened in many fields, not just law.

Historically, the marked exploiting cheap resources was so pervasive that we generally needed the government to prevent it. For example, to prevent employers from hiring cheaper negroes over whites, we passed Jim Crow and Davis Bacon laws.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Davis%E2%80%93Bacon_Act https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Crow_laws


If the idea here is that more diverse companies can pay lower wages and benefit that way then it may have something to it but it's hard to see that as the market "solving the problem."


When people are hired their salaries go up, solving the issue.


Except that the whole reason these smart companies are hiring them is that they can get them for bargain-basement wages, so a large disparity continues to exist.


If I understand correctly, the extension of the argument (in light of your objection) is this: assuming two equally sized and skilled pools of employees, Company Diversity will spend less on salaries than Company Bigot - meaning those funds are able to be spent elsewhere, giving Company Diversity a competitive advantage in the market. Eventually Company Bigot goes out of business (or lowers their salaries).

Of course we assume, in this thought experiment, that all the other things Company Bigot could do to become more competitive (invest in more employee training, better infrastructure, etc) are also available to Company Diversity. This isn't always the case. Maybe Company Diversity's hiring practices have alienated it from potential suppliers or clients who prefer Company Bigot's views.

Specifically I'm thinking of Japan, where (apparently; source: this site) the cultural emphasis on the salaryman paradigm means that hiring from the significant pool of contract labor can hurt your company image as far as working with the established corporations is concerned.


Or is this an admission that white men actually perform better than the rest?

Wouldn't surprise me. Considering we're talking about legal firms, a good chunk of the job is social interactions: with the clients and their partners, the judges, etc. If we make the not-exactly-absurd assumption that white men are more likely to be perceived as sound, then they could in fact "perform better" than others of the same ability.


If so, then it is reasonable to hire them, isn't it?


The concept of systemic discrimination means the system makes taking discriminatory actions reasonable - even necessary - for people who wouldn't otherwise discriminate of their own accord.

Which is why it's often considered even more problematic than individual discrimination, but also often easily dismissed, since the actors don't consider themselves as biased, they're just doing what's "reasonable".


Sure; it's also economically rational to dump industrial waste into drinking water if that's the cheapest way to dispose of it. So?


The market isn't a magic genie that imposes rationality.


> That we should have a permanent underclass instead?

"Instead"? We have one now.


Reading through their methodology, it seems that they screwed up in giving the lower class person attributes that indicated second best: e.g outstanding atlet vs outstanding atlet $IN_CATHEGORY, which is never going to be as impressive.


Does anyone still believe the "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" narrative any more?

My understanding was that it had been thoroughly debunked.


"It is a cruel jest to tell the bootless man to pull himself up by his bootstraps." -- Martin Luther King


Paul Ryan has described the social safety net as a "hammock" that lures people who are completely able to work into not doing so because they'd rather be on welfare.


Do you have any evidence he is wrong? Most of the evidence I've seen (here are mainstream descriptions of it) suggest he is completely right about that.

Currently California farmers are desperately raising wages in the hopes of finding workers. Yet millions of able bodied men continue to sit at home playing video games and consuming oxycontin, paid for by the social safety hammock.

http://www.latimes.com/projects/la-fi-farms-immigration/ http://apps.npr.org/unfit-for-work/ https://www.commentarymagazine.com/articles/our-miserable-21...


Here I was thinking we had an addiction crisis and weak labor market and it turns out a bunch of people have made the completely rational determination that shooting up heroin and collecting some of the stingiest welfare benefits in the OECD is better than working.

I wonder, by the way, how carefully you read the article claiming "In our era of no more than indifferent economic growth, 21st–century America has somehow managed to produce markedly more wealth for its wealthholders even as it provided markedly less work for its workers" before linking it to prove your claim that the unemployed are just too damn lazy to work.


As the CA farms going unstaffed show (or our 4.9% unemployment rate), we clearly don't have a weak labor market.

If you believe welfare is "stingy", can you name a good or service that non-workers lack? (Remember, I have a secret power - I sometimes read Census and BLS reports and pull them out in internet arguments.)

I wonder, by the way, how carefully you read the article claiming...

I read it carefully enough to separate the factual claims from the mood affiliation. You should try it sometime.


U6 unemployment numbers and inflation-adjusted household incomes don't tell the same story, and the anecdote about Californian farms hardly seems like much to base an argument on. But you've got superpowers and are uniquely capable of separating facts from opinion so why bother arguing with the plebes?


U6 includes people who aren't looking for work but tell the survey take that they might possibly take the right job if it were dropped in their lap.

Inflation adjusted hourly compensation has done nothing but rise.

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/COMPRNFB


Check out table 4:

https://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2005/05/art1full.pdf

For the bottom quarter by income, real wages are largely flat between 1979 and the publish date of that pdf.


Chart 1 of your own source shows the reason for that - growth has been more in benefits and less in wages. If you want to fix this, ban non-wage compensation (e.g. employer sponsored health insurance, 401k, etc).


Let's go back a second: you're claiming that blue collar unskilled labor jobs are going unfilled, but are also arguing that the growth in pay is in benefits. Yet, the jobs you say are going unfilled don't exactly have 401K matching here...

And to be clear, I'm not taking either of those claims as true or false, just highlighting the dissonance.


How much in benefits do you think people making $25,000 a year are getting today?

Anyway, It'd be interesting to see a binned version of the real compensation information. And also I think instructive to look at percent of income spending for things like housing and healthcare for the same bins over time.


Ya $500/month, self shaming, and ridicule by everyone you know sounds great


You or I might be ridiculed by everyone we know because of the social class we’re in, but what if half your friends are doing the exact same thing you are?


It may not be comfortable, but it certainly does trap the poor in poverty especially when combined with ghetto public housing and other misguided efforts.

A UBI does not suffer from this same issue.


Ironic given that he benefited from the same safety net he wants to destroy:

https://www.google.com/amp/www.rawstory.com/2011/04/paul-rya...


Paul Ryan should probably try living on welfare alone for a few years before saying that.


It's obviously nonsense but the point is that such an idea is far from dead.


It's primarily an economic argument, not a moralistic one.


I'm not sure that's right, but even if it is, I believe the parent's point is that nobody who'd actually had to live on welfare in the United States would conceive of it as an easy, carefree life that someone would prefer to steady work.


Well, either way, the argument is that the handcuffs are economic ones. The incentives are arranged to keep people stuck in their current economic situations regardless of how anyone feels about it.

For example, many benefits are withdrawn when people make over a certain income, basically punishing earning. Likewise, many benefits are cut off when a couple gets married, punishing people who officially form stable families.

It's not about gaming the system or preferring being on the take. It's about economic incentives producing predictable outcomes.

These are all arguments people make for minimum incomes and negative income taxes. They economically encourage people to pursue growth instead of punishing them for it.


I think it's debunked in the saying itself.

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