Getting hired: Sex and race

Trond Petersen*, Ishak Saporta, Marc David L. Seidel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)416-443
Number of pages28
JournalIndustrial Relations
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2005


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