When Do Chinese Firms Advertising on Internet Job Boards Discriminate in their Hiring Practices?


HKUST IEMS Academic Seminar
Prof. Margaret Maurer-Fazio (Bates College)
Thursday 22 October 2015 at 4:00 - 5:00 pm (Hong Kong time, GMT +8)
IAS2042, 2/F, Lo Ka Chung Building, Lee Shau Kee Campus, HKUST

Abstract / Seminar Summary

In this seminar, Prof. Margaret Maurer-Fazio will report results from three large‐scale field experiments that investigate how real Chinese firms respond to job applications received from fictitious applicants whose resume characteristics are purposefully crafted to vary only in terms of the specific characteristics being considered.

In the first study Prof. Maurer-Fazio and her team focused on ethnicity, as denoted by means of names that are typically Han Chinese and distinctively Mongolian, Tibetan, and Uighur. Prof. Maurer-Fazio and her team found significant differences in the callback rates by ethnicity and that these differences varied systematically across ethnic groups. Not all firms discriminated – approximately half treated all candidates equally. State-owned firms were significantly less likely than privately‐owned firms to discriminate against minorities.

The second study explored how both gender and facial attractiveness affected job candidates’ chances of obtaining interviews. It examined how discrimination based on these attributes varied over occupation, location, and firms’ ownership type and size. We found sizable differences in the interview callback rates of attractive and unattractive job candidates. Job candidates with unattractive faces needed to put in substantially more applications than their attractive counterparts to obtain the same number of interview callbacks.

The third study, which focused on women’s marital and employment status, found no evidence of discrimination based on either unemployment status or marital status in the hiring practices of the firms who advertised their job openings on China’s main Internet job boards. There was, however, clear evidence that HR managers were carefully reading resumes and making distinctions between the desirable and undesirable characteristics of applicants.

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