Have you ever written your college professor an email, and never received a reply? Well it could be because you’re a woman or a minority. A group of researchers emailed more than 6,500 professors at the top 250 schools pretending to be the students. And they sent all of the professors the same emails, “I really admire your work. Would you have some time to meet?” But the names were different. Brad Anderson. Meredith Roberts. Lamar Washington. LaToya Brown. Juanita Martinez. Deepak Patel, Sonali Desai, Chang Wong and Mei Chen were some of the names being used from the fake students.
All they were measuring was how often professors wrote back agreeing to meet with the students. And what they found was there were very large disparities. Women and minorities [were] systematically less likely to get responses from the professors and also less likely to get positive responses from the professors. Now remember, these are top faculty at the top schools in the United States and the letters were all impeccably written.
Milkman found there were very large disparities between academic departments and between schools. Faculty at private schools were significantly more likely to discriminate against women and minorities than faculty at public schools. And faculty in fields that were very lucrative were also more likely to discriminate. So there was very little discrimination in the humanities. There was more discrimination among faculty at the natural sciences. And there was a lot of discrimination among the faculty at business schools.
Also, it doesn’t matter if the professors you’re reaching out to are women. “There’s absolutely no benefit seen when women reach out to female faculty, nor do we see benefits from black students reaching out to black faculty or Hispanic students reaching out to Hispanic faculty,” and, “In business academia, we see a 25 percentage point gap in the response rate to Caucasian males vs. women and minorities.”