Does race play a role in hiring?

The white male law professor -- an endangered species?: Photo from Rep. Jim Cooper, US House of Representatives
The white male law professor -- an endangered species?: Photo from Rep. Jim Cooper, US House of Representatives
The Science Museum of Minnesota is hosting a new exhibit Race: Are We So Different? A lot of racial topics are emotionally charged and hard to talk about. So, when we can find a scientific study, it gives us something a little more objective to discus.

This study shows that, over the last 14 years, white males have had a harder time getting jobs as law professors than minorities or female candidates:

Candidate Type Success Rate (%)
Minority Women 18.5
Minority Men 17.5
Non-Minority Women 15.0
Non-Minority Men 11.3

The study looks at success rate -- that is, what percentage of white candidates get hired, what percentage of black candidates get hired, etc. It does not look at what percentage of a law school's faculty is black, white, green, purple, etc.

The large amount of data in the study makes it pretty unlikely that this is a fluke -- the pattern has held steady for 13 of the past 14 years. It's hard to avoid drawing the conclusion that women and minorities enjoy an advantage in getting hired as law school teachers. Some people would say that's discrimination. Some would say it's justified to make up for the decades these groups were barred from the profession. Some would say it's necessary to give today's students a well-rounded education with many perspectives.

What do you say? Leave a comment.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

MrScience's picture
MrScience says:

Well, my first thought was immediately that this seems less instructive about race than it does about statistics. Showing the "success rate" without also listing the percentage of hires of each group/number of applicants, or percentage of each group who make up law school faculties is effectively meaningless. Merely citing the success rate percentage and then asking if white male laws profs are an endangered species could be an excellent example of the addage "figures don't lie, liars figure".

Anyhoo, the exhibit sounds very interesting... can any of you SMM folks tell more about it?


"God grant me the company of those who seek the truth. And God deliver me from those who have found it."
-Isaac Newton

posted on Fri, 01/26/2007 - 8:39pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

I don't see your point. OK, the "endangered species" crack was an exaggeration to get attention. But why would it matter how many applicants come from each group? Yes, there are more men than women in the applicant pool, but still a higher percentage of those women are successful in finding jobs. (Same for minority vs. non-minority.) The only way I can see it would make much difference would be if one of these groups was very small, in which case a few "extra" hires would inflate the percentages. But this study covers 12,000 applicants over 14 years, so that does not seem to be the case.

(The percentage of each group in current faculties seems irrelevant, as this study addresses applicants, before they are hired.)

Anyway, if you follow the link in the post above, you will find a link to the full report. Many of the statistics you seek are here.

Category % of applicant pool % of eventual hires
Non-minority men 55% 46%
Non-minority women 26% 29%
Minority men 11% 14%
Minority women 8% 11%

So, white men make up 55% of the applicant pool, but only get 46% of the jobs. For all other groups, the trend is in the other direction. This seems like a pretty solid fact. The question is: is this justifiable? Is there a good reason for this?

Actually, there is a deeper question here: is equality of outcome indicative of equality of opportunity? If different groups have different rates of success, is that automatically proof of discrimination? For years, many people have argued that it is. Others have argued that, as long as there is no discrimination, it's perfectly alright to have unequal results.

You can learn more about the Race exhibit and here.

posted on Sun, 02/11/2007 - 10:20pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Here's a different study that shows how African-Americans are underrepresented in the sciences, particularly the highest levels of academia.

posted on Mon, 02/05/2007 - 6:32pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

Here's another study which seems to show that skin color plays a role in salary. Even after adjusting for different jobs, educational levels, experience, etc., they still found that the lighter your skin is, the more money you will make.

The study also found that taller people earn more money than shorter people.

posted on Tue, 02/06/2007 - 5:27pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Wheres anything about Mexicans???

posted on Thu, 02/15/2007 - 1:12pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

Mexicans would be included in "minority men" and "minority women." The study did not ask for specific countries of origin. If you go here and scroll to the bottom of Table 13D, you'll find that during the 14-year period covered by the study, a total of 360 Hispanics applied for jobs as law professors (3% of all applicants). 62 were successful (3.9% of the total). So, 17.2% of Hispanics who applied for these jobs got a job, compared to 13.3% for the total applicant pool.

posted on Thu, 02/15/2007 - 6:12pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

The AALS meat market is but one source of faculty hiring. My understanding is that the most elite schools do not much resort to it. I teach at a USeless News "top 100" law school and although we look at numerous AALS candidates, in the end they compose only about 20 - 25% of our hiring. Does anyone have race & gender data for all law professor hiring?

posted on Wed, 05/30/2007 - 1:56pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I teach at a top 50 school and my impression is that the aggregate percentage of entry level minorities hired within and outside the AALS process is higher than the percentage hired exclusively through the "meat market." Most decent schools are interested in increasing the number of minority candidates and therefore actively recruit, through personal contacts, minority candidates who are not actually "on the market." By contrast, almost no entry level non-minority candidates who are not in the AALS registry are hired -- at least in my experience. I am surprised to hear that there is a top 100 school that makes only 20-25 percent of its (entry level?) hires through the AALS. How can that be?

posted on Sat, 04/03/2010 - 5:40pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

As much as we would like to believe the answer is no, there are too many bigots in this world who hide behind "politically correct" phraseology but whose prejudices were passed on from earlier generations.

posted on Fri, 06/22/2007 - 9:32pm

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