Here's the abstract of this paper by Sukhadeo Thorat and Paul Attewell:
This article examines the prevalence of discrimination in the job application process of private sector enterprises in India. The study is based on a field experiment where authors replied to job advertisements in major English dailies sending three applications to each call – as an upper caste Hindu applicant, as a dalit and as a Muslim. Using statistical analysis they assess the data and find that discriminatory processes operate even at the first stage of the application process.
The authors used a neat method: Look for recruitment ads for entry-level or near entry-level jobs in private sector companies. Send three identical CVs with different names that would easily identify the (male) candidate's background: upper caste, Dalit or Muslim. And wait for who gets the call for the next step in the process (typically, an interview).
What did they find?
... [T]here are statistically significant effects of both caste and religion on job outcome. Appropriately-qualified applicants with a dalit name had odds of a positive outcome that were 0.67 of the odds of an equivalently qualified applicant with a high caste Hindu name. Similarly-qualified applicants with a Muslim name had odds of 0.33 of an otherwise equivalent applicant with a high caste name.
I would say this conclusion is pretty devastating. We will have to wait and see how the industry people respond to this study.
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Thanks to Madhukar Shukla (who also has an extended commentary) for the pointer. I was keen to read the paper ever since it was mentioned in Ram Mohan's blog. I'm glad it's now available in an open-access journal like EPW.
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Before closing, I also want to highlight something else from the paper:
The most common answer to an application was no response whatsoever. Rejection letters were rare: only 17 applications (one-third of 1 per cent) resulted in rejection letters. In other cases, those we classified as positive outcomes, employers either phoned or wrote to certain applicants asking to interview the person (or in some cases requesting the applicant appear for a written test). There were 450 positive outcomes of this type (9.4 per cent of all experimental applications).
The response rate itself is less than 10 percent! Unbelievable, isn't it? What kind of professionalism is this?