Racial discrimination where we least expected

Two recent studies have revealed the bitter truth: non-white researchers sit on fewer editorial boards, spend more time on peer review, and receive fewer citations than researchers of other nationalities.

The first team to identify this problem belongs to the University of New York at Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) and has combined the social sciences with data and computing. The discrimination detection findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

The survey showed that the number of non-white editors is lower than would be expected based on their share of authorship. In addition, these scientists have to wait longer between submissions and acceptances of their manuscripts, and after publication, their papers receive fewer citations than one would expect compared to other similar studies by white scientists.

Various non-white countries in Asia, Africa, and South America have been studied. The researchers collected an unprecedented set of data: one million articles published between 2001 and 2020 by six publishers (Frontiers, Hindawi, IEEE, MDPI, PLOS and PNAS) and identified the managing editor of each of them, as well as the date of their submission. and acceptance.

The analysis focused on three key findings: publisher-to-author ratio; the time elapsed between submission and acceptance of the article; and the number of citations of the article relative to other similar articles.

The results showed that these countries have fewer publishers than they should, based on percentage of authorship. Considering only American academics, black researchers have been shown to be the most underrepresented. Similarly, in terms of peer review time, papers from Asia, Africa, and South America were found to take longer to review than white papers. This also happens in the USA.

Finally, by examining the citation rates of papers published in the US, the researchers found that black and Hispanic scientists were cited much less frequently than white researchers doing similar research.

Finally, those who participated in the study explicitly stated that there was a racial division. “Our findings confirm that there continues to be a glaring and worrying racial gap in research citations affecting non-white scientists,” said Bedor Al-Shebli, assistant professor of computational social sciences at New York University.

“This means that these researchers are likely to be less visible compared to their peers doing similar research. The consequences for them, especially the likelihood of receiving funding for their work, can be incredibly detrimental to their academic career.

“The entire scientific community should strive to create an ecosystem free of geographic and racial disparities that currently hinder career advancement and impede scientific progress,” continued Talal Rahwan, Associate Professor of Computer Science at NYUAD.

Gaps in Europe too

Another study on a similar topic also produced disturbing results regarding attitudes towards ethnic origin. This study, developed in Europe, sought to analyze how hiring decisions are made among candidates with expatriate or European-born parents. The study turned out to be the most comprehensive on this topic conducted in the region.

The universities that collaborated on this massive data analysis were Carlos III of Spain, the Amsterdam Higher School in the Netherlands, the Center for Social Sciences in Berlin in Germany, and the German Center for Integration and Migration Research.

While previous research on the subject has already identified Muslim background as a major source of discrimination in employment, this new study now explores for the first time how phenotypes influence this process of seeking employment.

In this new approach, it was analyzed to what extent the fact of belonging to a “visible” minority and the presence of a non-white phenotype is an additional source of discrimination against the descendants of international immigrants in Europe.

On the other hand, having a black or Asian-Indian phenotype has been shown to reduce the likelihood that an employer will be interested in a candidate by about 20 percent (average among the three countries in the study: Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands). . . , while a brown-skinned Caucasoid phenotype (common in North Africa) reduces these average odds by about 10 percent compared to a white Caucasoid phenotype.

These scores confirm the influence of phenotype on the responses of European employers, once isolated from the influence of applicants’ region of origin. However, the study also shows that the combined effect of ethnicity and phenotype can lead to serious levels of discrimination in Europe.

Photos, colors and signs of other lands

To obtain these results, we analyzed the responses of almost 13,000 European companies to job applications with bogus resumes in these three European countries, where attaching a photo to job applications is common practice.

To this end, the researchers changed the names and photographs of fictitious applicants (while keeping the rest of the resume data identical) who applied for real jobs in a wide range of professions.

All of these prospective applicants were young people with the citizenship of the country of the experiment and the descendants of parents from four major regions of the world: the first, Europe and the United States; second, the Maghreb and the Middle East; third, Latin America; fourth, Asia.

This ancestry or ethnicity was indicated on the CVs primarily through the full names of the applicants. The photographs used in the CVs were carefully selected so that all candidates were comparable in physical attractiveness but differed in racial appearance across the four phenotypic groups (designated Black, Asian/American Indian, Black Caucasian, and White Caucasian).

This design allowed researchers to obtain the first comparable estimates of racial discrimination across countries reported in experimental field literature.

“Most of what we know about racial discrimination in employment today comes from Anglo-Saxon countries, especially the US, where the use of photographs in job applications is prohibited by law. This forced the researchers to evaluate racial discrimination using only the names of the applicants, which is quite problematic.

“A key strength of our study is that we explore the role of phenotype and ethnicity as potentially different triggers of discrimination, using plausible phenotypic differences across large regions of origin,” explains study lead author Javier Polavieja, professor of sociology at Banco Santander. and who directs the Discrimination and Inequality Laboratory (D-Lab) at Carlos III University.

Apparently, the racial gap is undoubtedly found even in the scientific and professional fields, where it would seem more logical not to find it. This social science research not only analyzes large amounts of data and promotes collaboration between research institutions, but also indicates the direction in which to move in order to create a more equitable and objective professional environment.

Source: Juventud Rebelde


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