Job applicants with Asian-sounding names are more likely to get rejected, new study says


Job applicants with Asian-sounding names — e.g. Khan, Chiang and Suzuki — are 28% less likely to get called in for an interview than their Anglo-sounding counterparts, according to a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Toronto and Ryerson University.

NPR reports that university researchers based their results on data used in a 2011 American Economic Association study where 12,910 fake resumes were sent to over 3,225 job listings. The study found that applicants with westernized first names and Asian last names didn't do significantly better than those with Asian first and last names.

"Some people still believe that minorities have an advantage," Jeffrey Reitz, a sociologist at the University of Toronto and one of the study's authors, told NPR. "These studies are important to challenge that and show that not only is this kind of discrimination happening, but it's quite systemic."

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While this study highlights anti-Asian discrimination in Canada, Asians seeking employment in the United States often face similar issues. Just ask Tiffany Trieu.

In September 2016, Trieu, an Asian-American, was denied a graphic design position with a letter from the studio's president citing the company has "hired so many foreign nationals that it seems time for us to hire an American, or be unfair." Trieu was born in the U.S.

That same month, the U.S. Department of Labor filed a lawsuit against Peter Thiel's Palantir Technologies for allegedly discriminating against Asian job applicants. According to the New York Times, Palantir Technologies received about 1,160 qualified job applications – 85% came from Asians — for software engineering positions. Out of that pool of applicants, 11 Asians and 14 non-Asians were hired. 

"The likelihood that this result occurred according to chance is approximately one in 3.4 million," the Labor Department wrote in their suit.

This recent study isn't the first to find examples of racial discrimination in the job application and hiring process. In 2003, the National Bureau of Economic Research found that resumes submitted with white-sounding names, Carrie or Kristen, had call-back rates higher than 13%. Similarly qualified candidates with black-sounding names were called back much less. For example, Aisha had a 2.2% call-back rate. Keisha and Tamisha got 3.8% and 5.4%, respectively.

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However, hiring bias isn't limited to just race. In 2009, researchers from Clemson University and George Mason University's Mercatus Center found women with masculine sounding names were more likely to be hired in the legal profession than women with more feminine-sounding names.

Then in a 2014 University of Connecticut study, resumes that hint a job applicant's Islamic faith – whether by name or through their listed career experience — faced the brunt of discrimination. Muslims received 32% fewer emails and and 48% less callbacks for job listings in New England than people without any religious indicators. Catholics and pagans were 29% and 27% less likely to receive a callback, respectively.

Regardless, the explicit prejudice and discrimination employers place on job applicants has resulted in a phenomena of people "whitening" their resumes. This meant scrubbing away or altering language, names or organizations that could reveal their race, ethnicity and/or religion — thus further reexamining exactly what is in a name.