It would be nice for more women to have a mentor during their college years before facing office politics and the career ladder struggles of corporate America, but when they’re a double minority, their chances of snagging one are much lower than those who are white and men.
In a study conducted by Katherine Milkman, OPIM assistant professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, 6,500 professors at 259 top universities across the country received an e-mail asking for advice and mentorship while applying to a post-grad program. The e-mail message was the same, but the fictitious senders were identifiably White, Black, Hispanic, Indian, or Chinese.
Sadly, e-mails from names that screamed non-White or female were ignored at a much higher rate than those seemingly sent by a white male. (Chinese female names saw the highest rate of discrimination with a 29 percent gap at private institutions and a 17 percent gap at public institutions.) The discrimination gap was even more noticeable at private universities and in higher-paying disciplines like business schools. Bias was essentially negligible in humanities.
Also, the e-mail recipients spanned all ethnicities, with even a oversampling in minority faculty members.
Unfortunately, female faculty were just as biased against female students as male faculty,” Milkman says. “In addition, minority faculty were just as biased against minority students as Caucasian faculty (with the notable exception of Chinese faculty, who exhibited less bias against Chinese students than others).”