Research

  • Glass Floors and Glass Ceilings: The Effect of Pairing Job Applicants with Same-Sex Versus Opposite-Sex Evaluators in Job Interviews (with Lauren Rivera) [Second Revision Resubmitted to American Journal of Sociology]
When do sex-based ingroup and outgroup preference occur in hiring? Sociologists frequently describe ingroup preference as a powerful driver of sex inequalities in organizations. Yet, existing empirical evidence suggests a more complicated story. In some cases, male and female managers display ingroup bias, in some cases they display outgroup bias, and in other cases the sex of the manager makes little difference. Using new microlevel data on job interview evaluations from a large, professional service organization, we help resolve these seemingly contradictory effects by identifying three factors that influence when hiring agents display in-group or out-group preference: the sex of the applicant, the applicant’s perceived skill level, and the sex-typing of the skills being evaluated. We find that interviewer sex is consequential only for evaluations of women applicants. For women, however, the effect of having a male or female interviewer varies strikingly based on their perceived skill levels in stereotypically masculine domains. We observe strong ingroup preference for women perceived to be low in stereotypically masculine skills, but significant outgroup preference for women perceived to be high in stereotypically masculine skills. Consequently, we argue that evaluator-applicant sex similarity operates not only as a glass floor that prevents women low in stereotypically masculine skills from falling below a certain scoring threshold, but also as a glass ceiling that prevents women most skilled on these dimensions from receiving the highest hiring recommendations and, in highly selective, stereotypically masculine occupations, receiving job offers.
  • The Origins of the Racial Gap in School Suspension and Expulsion (with Sara McLanahan) [Under Review]
The use of suspension and expulsion in U.S. schools has increased by 50% over the past four decades. Black boys face nearly three times higher rates of these exclusionary tactics than White boys. Interpersonal racial discrimination, or harsher disciplinary responses to Black boys, despite their entering school with the same behaviors and coming from similar family and school contexts, is widely assumed to help explain these racial disparities, but has not been thoroughly tested outside laboratory experiments. We measure the role of interpersonal racial discrimination outside the lab in order to parse its contribution relative to three other common explanations for the racial gap in exclusionary discipline. Using data from the Fragile Families Study, we find that interpersonal discrimination accounts for 30% of the Black/White gap in elementary school suspension and expulsion. Consistent with prior research on racial threat, we find that the concentration of Black boys in punitive schools serving low-income and minority students accounts for roughly 10% of the racial gap. Racial differences in family structure and socioeconomic resources account for another 10%, and differences in boys’ behavior at the time they enter kindergarten account for only 5% percent. Building on prior work on structural discrimination, we argue that interpersonal discrimination also plays an important role and accounts for a larger share of the racial gap than other common explanations in the literature. We also help reconcile previously conflicting results about the role of behavior differences in suspension rates.
  • The New Scarlet Letters: The Social Impact of ADHD Diagnoses and Medication for Children with Less Severe ADHD [Under Review]
In 2011, 6.4 million (nearly 10%) of American children ages 4-17 had ever been diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Although many diagnosed children fall into a clinical “gray area” in terms of meeting diagnostic criteria, it is unclear whether diagnosing children with less severe ADHD improves or impedes later learning-related behaviors and academic achievement. Using a sample of 7,830 kindergartners from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort (ECLS-K), I find that, especially among children with less severe ADHD, an early ADHD diagnosis was associated with significantly lower learning-related behaviors and academic achievement, net of cognitive abilities and mother and teacher rated ADHD-related behaviors measured shortly before diagnosis. Medication partially offset the negative diagnosis-achievement relationship. Results suggest that, for children with less severe ADHD, an ADHD diagnosis may trigger a negative social labeling process that is associated with poor learning-related behaviors and academic achievement.
  • The Hidden Costs of ‘Medicating to Win’: The Unintended Consequences of the ADHD Label in an Era of Early Academic Advantage-Seeking [In Preparation]
With rates of ADHD diagnosis and its corresponding access to stimulant medication having risen 50% since the 1980s, early identification and treatment of ADHD has increasingly become an integral part of the basket of educational advantages sought out by high SES parents in preparing their children for academic success. As ‘the new normal,’ ADHD diagnoses are widely assumed to no longer carry negative social consequences within high SES communities. Using data on a nationally-representative sample of kindergartners followed until eighth grade through the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort (ECLS-K), I show that, while an early ADHD diagnosis with medication use does improve academic achievement among diagnosed and treated children from high SES backgrounds by almost 0.10 SD, it is also associated with twice as large of an increase in levels of anxiety- and depression-related behaviors and lower levels of social adjustment, decreasing positive relationships with peers and teachers and the ability to delay gratification by roughly 0.20 SD. This may reflect children’s responses to academic and social pressures, or a morphed form of negative social labeling associated with actively appearing to seek out educational advantages – a new type of stigma unique to diagnosed and treated children in high SES communities. With research showing that these social and other ‘non-cognitive’ skills are highly valued relative to cognitive ability when it comes to access to rarified educational and employment opportunities among an oversized pool of academically qualified candidates, the negative social and behavioral effects of diagnosis and treatment carry significant implications for high SES children’s educational and career trajectories.

  • Exclusionary Discipline: Race and Color Disparities in How Educators Evaluate and Punish Misbehavior (with Maria Abascal) [In Preparation]
School suspension and expulsion predict juvenile detention, educational attainment, earnings, incarceration, and recidivism. Suspension/expulsion impacts children’s development, contributing to cumulative disadvantages for students, families, and communities. Black students face more suspension/expulsion: 20% of Black boys are suspended, compared to 12% of Black girls, 9% of Hispanic boys, and 6% of White boys. Neither higher incidence of infraction nor lesser responsiveness to restorative discipline practices (like tutoring or counseling) fully accounts for Black boys’ higher suspension/expulsion rates. Implicit bias offers a possible explanation: certain teachers might sanction Black boys more readily, and punitively, than White boys for identical, routine misbehavior. This compelling hypothesis has received scant empirical investigation.

This project uses a video experiment fielded with a diverse sample of teachers to: 1) precisely estimates magnitudes of bias in evaluations of identical misbehavior and in recommended sanctions, and; 2) tests an intervention to reduce bias. We deploy a video vignette experiment that manipulates the race/ethnicity and gender of students committing identical misbehavior. Teachers are randomly assigned to student and punitive or restorative school discipline environment. Teachers then view and rate videotaped misbehavior and report recommended sanction. This project quantifies teachers’ implicit bias; the social psychological mechanisms underlying disproportionate suspension/expulsion; and factors magnifying bias. Results will inform three promising strategies for reducing disparities in discipline, namely through identification of key points in the decision-making process where bias is most pronounced, alteration of school disciplinary decision-making protocol, and teacher-student demographic matching.
  • The Rise of Social Control and the Spatial Embedding of Racial Disparities in Child Behavior: The Intergenerational Effects of the Concentrated Rise in Arrests [In Preparation]
With the size of the incarcerated population having grown 500% since 1980 and with five times more Black than White men behind bars in 2015, researchers have documented the negative effects of paternal incarceration on the behavioral development of children, particularly sons. At the same time, another arm of scholars have documented the spatial concentration of disadvantage within particular communities of color and the implications of this concentration for barriers to social mobility. In this study, I bring together these two lines of research. Drawing on two cohorts of children across the U.S. born in the 1980s and 200s, and followed from birth to school entry, merged with data on county-level arrest rates in these time periods, I show that the concentrated rise in arrests within poor communities carries implications for the rise in behavior problems among Black, but not White, boys, as early as school entry. As arrest rates rose overall during the ‘tough on crime’ era, Black boys who lived in counties with the greatest increases in arrest disproportionately suffered, experiencing significantly larger increases in self-regulation problems and social problems than White boys living in the same counties by the time they entered school. In light of research showing that differences in behavioral development of this magnitude are associated with markedly lower academic achievement and higher delinquency in later childhood and adolescence, this increase in behavior problems sheds light on another facet of the spatial embedding of disadvantage brought about by the rise of ‘tough on crime’ policies and a turn toward punitive social control. Given that poor communities of color are more likely to be policed and that males of color are more likely to be criminalized, this work shows how the spatial concentration of heightened monitoring and arrests lead to the intergenerational transmission of disadvantage.
  • Racialized Pathways: The Differential Advantages of Family Resources and the Uneven Penalties of Within-School Sorting on Black and White Boys’ Educational Attainment (with Prabhdeep Kehal) [In Preparation]

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