Hypothesis: People are less likely to apply for a job in which they will be under-represented relative to the wider population. More technically, the distribution of job applicants is the same as, or similar to, the distribution of employees.

Example: Take a male-dominated job, such as tech, in which 73.3% of jobs are held by men and 26.7% by women, despite the fact that the population is roughly 50/50 men/women. Are female job applicants in tech also roughly 20-30% (or at least less than 50%) as a potential result of this?

The example can be extended to minority groups as well. Note that if a minority group makes up, say, 10% of the population and they are 10% of a given work force, I would not consider this to be under-representation. In this case, they would have to be less than 10% of the workforce to be under-represented.

I'm trying to find literature that has looked into the hypothesis, or some similar variant of it, but I'm struggling to find anything.

Please don't answer yes/no without references.


1 Answer 1


There is research to suggest that people may be less likely to apply to jobs in which they will be a minority due to the potential for bias and discrimination.

Here are a few references that discuss discrimination and the impact of minority or gender status on job application behavior:

  • Fluchtmann, J., Glenny, A., Harmon, N. A., & Maibom, J. (2021). The Gender Application Gap: Do men and women apply for the same jobs? IZA DP No. 14906.
  • Bertrand, M., & Mullainathan, S. (2004). Are Emily and Greg more employable than Lakisha and Jamal? A field experiment on labor market discrimination. The American Economic Review, 94(4), 991-1013.

A review in sociology: Pager, D., & Shepherd, H. (2008). The sociology of discrimination: Racial discrimination in employment, housing, credit, and consumer markets. Annual Review of Sociology, 34, 181-209.

It is important to note that the impact of minority status on job application behavior can vary depending on a number of factors, including the specific job, the industry, and the cultural and social context.


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