Study: Darker-Skinned Black Job Applicants Face More Obstacles

By Banerji, Shilpa | Diverse Issues in Higher Education, September 21, 2006 | Go to article overview

Study: Darker-Skinned Black Job Applicants Face More Obstacles


Banerji, Shilpa, Diverse Issues in Higher Education


ATHENS, Ca.

A University of Georgia study shows that dark-skinned Blacks face a distinct disadvantage when applying for jobs, as compared to lighter-skinned applicants.

The study, "Colorism in the Job Selection Process: Are There Preferential Differences Within the Black Race?" was presented by Matthew Harrison, a doctoral student at UGA, at the 66th annual meeting of the Academy of Management in Atlanta last month.

Harrison, who is Black, told Diverse the findings are not very surprising.

"We found that a light-skinned Black male can have only a bachelor's degree and typical work experience and still be preferred over a dark-skinned Black male with an MBA and past managerial positions, simply because expectations of the light-skinned Black male are much higher, and he doesn't appear as 'menacing' as the darker-skinned male applicant," he says.

However, he was still surprised that skin color played a more salient role than education. In America especially, Harrison says, when people think of race or race relations they commonly think in terms of Black and White. In fact, he says, skin tone differences are responsible for increasingly different perceptions within standard racially defined groups, like Blacks.

"Other world cultures are, perhaps, more aware of this [bias]," Harrison says, referring to hierarchical skin tone preferences among Hindus in India as well as some cultures of Hispanics and Asians. …

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