Being the Only Woman or Person of Color Applying for a Job Means You Probably Won't Get It


A new study shows that applicants who find themselves the only woman or person of color in the applicant pool stand very little chance of being hired. 

So if you're in one — or both — of these categories, here's a tip: Check who else is applying. According to a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, results from three separate studies proved that people are more likely to hire women or people of color when they are not the sole candidate in the applicant pool.


Researchers calculated that a woman is 79.14 times more likely to be hired if she is up against another woman for the job. For people of color, the chances of getting hired if another person of color is a candidate are 193.72 times greater.  

When researchers gave participants similar resumes but changed the names to reflect a different gender or a different ethnicity, people consistently hired a woman or a person of color when they were up against a candidate from the same ethnic or gender group. 

Now, you may be thinking, "But if there are more women or people of color applying, the chances do go up!" And while that is true, the numbers researchers found — 79.14 and 193.72 — far outpace statistical probability. 


Here's how researchers broke down the reality: Just having one "diversity" candidate doesn't do anything to increase diversity. 

In applicant pools with only one female and three male candidates, the chances of a woman being hired were statistically zero. The problem? When a woman or person of color is seen as an outlier among the applicant pool, the candidate's competence is often questioned. 

Diverse hiring practices have to start with people willing to hire those who don't look like them. A recent study showed that, while most people favor workplace diversity, the idea only really catches on when white men endorse it