Orchestrating Impartiality: The Impact of Blind Auditions on Female Musicians

From: Chris Rasch (crasch@openknowledge.org)
Date: Tue Feb 06 2001 - 17:01:47 MST

I recently came across this recently in an article on bias in hiring

"Accounting for Unintended Bias

Even among the most well-intentioned of individuals, the possibility of
unintended bias is present. That is, without knowing that he or she is
doing so, those responsible for hiring may favor someone that looks
like us (for whatever definition of us is relevant). The hiring
managers may select a superbly qualified person who looks different in
contrast to an adequately qualified person who looks the same, but the
bias is most likely to come out in a choice between two nearly equally
qualified individuals.

Steps can be taken to reduce the likelihood of unintended bias as a
general rule, these steps involve separating the dimensions on which an
individual is evaluated from personally identifying (and irrelevant)
characteristics. Of course, such a separation is not always possible
(e.g., when an individual's ability to work in a team is being
evaluated), but it is possible more than it is practiced.

The impact of such steps can be quite significant. For example, in
hiring musicians, symphony orchestras require applicants to audition.
All auditions are live, but some orchestras conduct them with the
applicant behind a screen that prevents the judges from seeing the
musician. In doing so, the music that the applicant plays the relevant
part of the audition is separated from the irrelevant characteristics of
the applicant s sex, race, and age. Goldin and Rouse find that the use
of screen increases by 50 percent the probability that a female musician
will be advanced from certain preliminary rounds and increases by
severalfold the likelihood that a female musician will be selected in
the final round."

Goldin, Claudia, and Cecilia Rouse. 2000. Orchestrating Impartiality:
The Impact of Blind Auditions on Female Musicians, American Economic
Review 90(September):715-742.

cited in:

Building a Workforce for the Information Economy (prepublication copy)

Prepared by:

Committee on Workforce Needs in Information Technology
Computer Science and Telecommunications Board
Board on Testing and Assessment
Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy
Office of Scientific and Engineering Personnel

National Research Council
Washington, D.C.

The report also contains a number of other fascinating statistics. For
example, according to (Schmidt and Hunter, 1998) years of education and
years of job experience correlate poorly with measures of actual
on-the-job performance: 0.10 and 0.18, respectively.

Schmidt, F.L., and Hunter, J.E. 1998. The Validity and Utility of
Selection Methods in Personnel Psychology: Practical and Theoretical
Implications of 85 Years of Research Findings, Psychological Bulletin

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