Recently Agnok Lueth, a Sudanese-Australian man, was having a hard time finding a job. Despite applying to over 1,000 jobs that matched his professional experience, Lueth came up empty. In a fit of desperation he decided to send out resumes under a stereotypically “White” name—Daniel McLean—and the callbacks came rolling in. Although none of the calls led to interviews or jobs, Lueth’s experiment confirmed what many have long thought—job seekers with “ethnic” sounding names have a tougher time catching the eye of employers.

According to Jezebel, a similar experiment was conducted in the U.S. During the study, researchers sent out 5,000 resumes with stereotypically Black names and stereotypically White names. Despite having similar job experience, guess who got the most callbacks?

Anna North of Jezebel writes:

“They found that “job applicants with white names needed to send about 10 resumes to get one callback; those with African-American names needed to send around 15 resumes to get one callback.” What’s more, improved credentials had more of an effect on the fate of white-sounding applicants than of black-sounding ones — while people named Greg could look forward to more callbacks if they had more experience, the same wasn’t necessarily the case for people named Jamal.”

Despite it being illegal to discriminate on the basis of race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation, Lueth’s experiment shows, once again, that racial discrimination is still a problem many of us face each day.


Do you have an ethnic-sounding name? Have you found it difficult to find a job? Let’s talk about it! 

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  • matt

    If you want it to stop happening, stop filling your kids names with apostrophes and accents when you’re as un-african as possible.

  • BlackButterfly

    those kids born with names like Apple or Jet are born to rich parents and will never need to worry about interviewing for a job – so let’s come with a better comparison and yes some of us need to do a better job at naming our children….no one takes Alize, De’Quaran, Knowshon (and this one belongs to Knowshon Moreno – google him) or Darinnequetta seriously for jobs other than dancing on a pole or playing football or some sport.

    A child’s name should have meaning something they can be proud of and be proud to have someone else named after later they should not be named after liquor, cars, shoes, expensive or luxury brands.

    If anyone is interested pick up the book Freakonomics and read the chapter on kids names and how it plays into their future earning potentials…lets just say Jezebel may be a limiting name.

  • C in Cleveland

    I think a better comparison are names like Ebony, Kesha, or Jamal. These names are easily associated with black folk absent the more provocative meanings, like Alize. Are we proposing that the above names and identities be disguised to appease wp? Someone with a name like Alize is less likely to meet the qualifications for a higher level position, so those examples seem extreme.

    The extreme names are simply another polarizing argument wedged bt. classes to keep the upper class feeling superior about their standing. If folk knew better they would do better. That’s always the response to poverty mindsets. What’s the point of chastising folk, who clearly aren’t even a factor in these scenarios. I doubt highly that Shanqueesha and Neek Neek will be competing with most of us for the same positions. Their namesake indicates they have many hurdles to overcome before even reaching that point. It’s much easier to point to those examples to justify discrimination, but what about close friends and family with “unfortunate” names, like Shanice. It’s gets a little closer to home and stings a bit.


    Some of the comments on here are beyond sad. It has proven that self-hate runs DEEP among African-Americans. One person went so far as to say African-Americans MUST behave in a manner that is pleasing to Whites because they are the RULING class?!!!!! What?! Let’s get something this country the “ruling class” is defined by MONEY not color. That’s a fact. Don’t believe me? Look up the top influential people in the U.S. and then look up their yearly income or net worth. I’ll wait….

    Keep believing that White people run things and see how far it gets you in life. I understand the “play the game” part of the argument but NO ONE RULES ME! NO ONE! If you are happy receiving table scraps from your self-imposed ruling class, hoping and prayin they give you a chance, have fun! I was raised to believe that there are absolutely no barriers to my success. When I find a closed door, I will MAKE an open one. I refuse to hide my ethnicity for the sake of getting ahead. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself. And I wouldn’t purposely hide my children’s ethnicities because prejudiced people still exist. They will always exist. Claiming that it is not the appropriate time to name our child what we want is what I call “Back of the Bus” thinking. That mentality would’ve kept us on the back of the bus.
    A name is one of your first gifts to your child. It is the act of imparting your values and various experiences to your child. When you name them, you infuse them with your wishes for their life. I don’t want my first lesson and gift to my child to be…”Bend over and take what the world gives you!” Furthermore, if a child comes from my womb I will name it whatever I want to name it. I won’t allow the world decide.

    Another thing that bothers me is how many people agreed that “extremely ethnic” names are almost ALWAYS associated with “lower class behavior”. Towards the end of this thread people started ruling them out altogether. The above comment said they don’t even factor into the conversation because they are basically lower-class losers with low-class mothers that come from low-class neighborhoods and nobody expects much from them(paraphrasing..but that’s what I read in the comment). How incredibly ignorant, judgemental, and hateful is that? When I see someone less fortunate than me I think “There before the grace of God go I”. You are NOT any better than people living in low-income communities. We need to stop using that utterly disgusting word..GHETTO. It is a veiled attempt at elevating yourself by looking down on someone else. People in low-income neighborhoods are human beings…some misguided, some truly unfortunate. There’s a story behind all of them. Besides that…Where do you guys live? Where I live there are people with names as unique as each snowflake and as long as my arm that are doctors,lawyers,entrepreneurs etc. And NO, all of those people did NOT conform to the ways of White folks to get to where they are. A name does NOT limit you unless you let it.

    Oh and here’s an idea….start your own company! If more African-Americans pursued entrepreneurship instead of just having a J.O.B., we would have more African-American’s browsing through resumes. They would have enough sense to know that an ethnic name does not give a brief synopsis of the applicant…or so I would hope.

    One more thing…everyone kept throwing out the example of applicants with Indian or Asian names breezing through the door. That is not always true here in the U.S. and is certaintly not true in other countries. Look it up.

  • Unfortunately, even today (ABC did a similar follow-up study in 2012) ethnicity or gender specific names either gave you a significant leg up or boot out. Typically it is not bad intent, but rather unconscious bias. We provide a Reducing Unconscious Bias in Interviewing and Selection workshop to help companies raise awareness of these unintended barriers so they can focus on making better hiring decisions. Names are just one of many items on a resume which kick in biases (both positive and negative).