The Disadvantage of “Black” Names

Could naming one's daughter Condoleezza diminish her employment prospects?

A 2004 Harvard study showed that job applicants with typically white names like Emily Walsh or George Baker were 50% more likely to be called back than job applicants with typically black names like Lakisah Washington or Jamal Jones.  I was reminded of this study as I read the names of various high school football athletes and where they signed to go to college, and I wondered if some athletes’ names alone would hurt them when the applied for jobs (assuming they did not win the lottery and make the NFL).  The Harvard study is 8 years old now.  I wonder if there has been any more recent research.  With a president named Barack Obama and a former Secretary of State named Condoleezza Rice, I would hope that this name bias has declined.  If it has not, it would seem on one level simple enough to avoid, with strategic shortening or modification.  After all Barack Obama used to go by Barry Obama .  On another level, though, who wants to modify their identity to sell themselves to biased potential employers?

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2 comments on “The Disadvantage of “Black” Names

  1. lorijss says:

    No one should feel like they have to modify their identity to sell themselves to biased employers. If one modifies their identity they are selling themselves short and that is bad for self-esteem and self-worth.

  2. It’s still hard to get a job if you have a really “black” name. My old job a couple months back refused a new employee because her name was “Shaquanda.” The boss said it would look too “ghetto” on the name tag. -_-

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