Women and Underrepresented Minorities: Apply for Positions


At my day job, I am actively involved with assisting our Recruiting department with getting both women and underrepresented minorities, particularly African-Americans, to apply for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) positions, and I've been talking with college students and recent graduates in the past week from two of the top universities in the country (and the world).

I've been surprised and shocked how many times I've heard potential candidates ask, "I'm not sure I meet all the qualifications; should I apply?"

The answer is a resounding YES!

Studies have shown that Caucasian males tend to apply for positions once they see that they meet about 60% of the qualifications in a job post, but women and minorities tend to apply only when they meet 100% of the stated qualifications.

Furthermore, once on the job, when it comes to performance reviews and consideration for promotion, Caucasian males tend to get evaluated on potential, whereas everyone tends to be evaluated on past performance.

It's a double whammy that supports the patriarchal system. Women and minorities self-select out of applying for positions, but once they are in, institutional norms support maintaining the status quo.

There are other related factors, such as accumulated advantage and the false dichotomy of diversity versus meritocracy, but we know that in technology fields, workplace diversity fosters innovation. In order to increase diversity, we need to encourage women and minorities to apply for positions at the same rates as their counterparts.

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