Professors Are More Likely to Mentor You If You're a White Man
Tuesday, May 06, 2014 - 11:37 AM
According to a recent study, professors are much more likely to be willing to meet with students who are white and male than they are with minority and female students.
The Wharton School recently tried an experiment where it sent the exact same email to 6,500 professors at 259 schools across the United States, posing as a student requesting a meeting. The only difference was that some of them were from a student named "Brad Roberts," while others had names like "Meredith Roberts, Lamar Washington, LaToya Brown, Juanita Martinez, Deepak Patel, Sonali Desai, Chang Wong," and "Mei Chen."
"All they were measuring was how often professors wrote back agreeing to meet with the students," notes NPR's Shankar Vedantam. "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."
Faculty at private universities, business schools and those in "lucrative" (read: non-humanities) fields were more likely to discriminate than those at public schools or those who work in the humanities.
Racial bias was most evident against Asian students, which surprised researchers, who assumed the stereotype of "Asians as a model minority group" would be reflected in faculty response. The assumption, as well as the final data, reveal how both Southeast Asians and East Asians collectively remain the silent minority whose mythic "model minority" status conceals their lived discrimination in American culture.
According to The Wharton School, this study suggests that woman and minority students aren't receiving the institutional support that allows white men to graduate at a rate six times that of black and latino men.