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STUDY: Blind Recruitment Aimed At Boosting Female Hires Actually Does The Opposite

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A study released Thursday found that gender-blind recruitment efforts, which many hoped would increase female representation in the workforce, has actually had the opposite effect.

The Australian government published the results of the study, conducted by the Behavioral Economics Team of the Australian Government (BETA), which examined how adding and removing a candidate’s gender from an application affected their chances of getting hired, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Including a male name in an application made the candidate 3.2 percent less likely to be selected for a job interview. Alternatively, putting a female name on an application made that candidate 2.9 percent more likely to obtain a job interview.

“We anticipated this would have a positive impact on diversity — making it more likely that female candidates and those from ethnic minorities are selected for the shortlist,” Michael Hiscox, a Harvard University professor and part of BETA, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “We should hit pause and be very cautious about introducing this as a way of improving diversity, as it can have the opposite effect.”

Hiscox reported being shocked by the results. The study’s result stands in contrast to other trials conducted in Australia. The Australia Bureau of Statistics doubled its percentage of female management with gender-blind recruitment in 2016.

“APS [Australian Public Service] officers generally discriminated in favor of female and minority candidates,” the forward to the study says. “This suggests that the APS has been successful to some degree in efforts to promote awareness and support for diversity among senior staff. It also means that introducing de-identification of applications in such a context may have the unintended consequence of decreasing the number of female and minority candidates shortlisted for senior APS positions, setting back efforts to promote more diversity at the senior management levels in the public service.”

BETA advised addressing bias at stages of recruitment later than initial inspections of applications, such as evaluations and interviews.

The Daily Caller News Foundation reached out to Hiscox for further comment, but received none in time for publication.

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