The study was straightforward enough. Laboratory directors in the fields of biology, physics, and chemistry from three public and three private universities were asked to assess a candidate's worth, whether he or she would be hired, and how much he or she would earn -- based solely on the resumes.
Asked to rate both Jennifer and John on a scale from 1 to 7, the evaluators gave John an average score of 4, whereas Jennifer's identical resume scored only 3.3.
And, there's more: when asked if they were likely to mentor or hire the candidate, more respondents decided in favor of John. Those positive evaluations had a translation in salary, too. John would get an offer of $30.328, while Jennifer a less enthralling figure of $26.508.
One of the most interesting conclusions of the study was that the evaluator's gender, specialization, or age, did not correlate with bias. An old male physics professor was as likely as a young female biology professor to discriminate against Jennifer. Thus, the researchers hint at a generalized, subconscious cultural prejudice, instead of premeditated discrimination as the probable cause for their results.