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Headscarves and hiring, somebody’s watching  you, and a bathroom personality test

Wednesday, June 7, 2017
posted by Rita Handrich

Time for another one of those posts that combine the things we’ve been reading into a ‘this and that’ sort of post that gives you information on issues you may want to know more about and that certainly make you a more interesting conversationalist. Or perhaps a more memorable conversationalist.

Employers are less likely to hire women wearing headscarves

It seems like it has been forever since anyone suggested we were living in a post-racial society but it probably has been more than 150 days. (Sigh.) We’ve written before about women who wear head scarves but in the context of witness preparation and jury persuasion. So now we have a study that says if you wear a head scarf, you are less likely to be hired. This is research conducted in Europe but, at this point, we wonder if the results would be the same in the US.

The researcher created applications for three different females who all had identical qualifications. They were different only in their names and the photograph attached to the resumé. The same woman was in each photograph—but in one she had a German name (Sandra Bauer), and in two others she had a Turkish name (Meryem Öztürk). One of the Meryem’s wore a head scarf in her photo but it was, the researcher said, “arranged in a modern style to signal the applicant was a young, modern woman who could easily fit into a secular environment”.

The researcher says this:

About 1,500 applications were sent out in response to job advertisements during the course of the experiment. We found that when “Meryem Öztürk” wore a head scarf, she had to send 4.5x as many applications as “Sandra Bauer” to receive the same number of call backs for interviews.

When “Meryem Öztürk” did not wear a headscarf, she still had to send 1.4x as many applications as “Sandra Bauer”.

In her interview with the Harvard Business Review, the researcher recommends that employers stop asking that photographs accompany resumés. It would be interesting to see the results of a study that had that as an added variable—would employers treat “Sandra Bauer (no photo)” the same as “Sandra Bauer (western, with photo)” or “Sandra Bauer (head scarf, with photo), or any of the various iterations of the “Meryem” applications. The possibility has to be considered that for those opposed to Muslim employees, or who want to avoid workplace attire and/or religion issues, the lack of a photo could increase bias against those with ethnic names, out of concern that they may also (perhaps) wear ethnic attire or simply “be” ethnic (whatever that means to the hiring manager).

The Toilet Paper Roll Personality Test

The battle over whether the toilet paper roll should be placed with the end hanging over or under has gone on for ages. (Although we will tell you that it is definitively solved by looking at the patent application for the toilet paper roll which shows the roll should be placed with the end hanging over.) In a fairly ridiculous twist, researcher Gilda Carle says how you place toilet paper (i.e., “over” or “under”) tells us about your personality.

According to Dr. Carle, “over” people are more assertive, more likely to be in leadership roles, and more likely to have a take charge attitude. (Additionally, 20% of “over” people reported they had switched the roll around to their liking at another person’s house.) “Under” people are more submissive, agreeable, flexible and empathetic. People who roll “under” also make less money than those who roll over.

I agree—you didn’t need to know that. And anyone who starts including these questions to screen prospective employees? Well. You didn’t learn this from us!

Somebody’s watching you….

Cue a 2004 Motown song and you have the gist of this next tidbit. Tom Stafford over at Mind Hacks blog explains what goes on in our brains so that we just “know” someone is watching us. This is a weird post that basically says you really can “sense” it if you are being watched even if you are consciously unaware of it happening.

He ends his post this way:

So when you’re walking that dark road and turn and notice someone standing there, or look up on the train to see someone staring at you, it may be your non-conscious visual system monitoring your environment while you’re [sic] conscious attention was on something else.

It’s a creepy post. It also reminds us of the post we did a few weeks ago on the invisibility cloak illusion where we all believe that we watch (and judge) others constantly, but we, in turn, are not as watched and judged by others. Simply untrue, said those researchers. Neither Tom’s post nor our post are ‘feel good’ research.

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