Bickel-SexBiasinGraduateAdmissions-DatafromBerkeley

Bickel-SexBiasinGraduateAdmissions-DatafromBerkeley - Sex...

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Sex Bias in Graduate Admissions: Data from Berkeley Measuring bias is harder than is usually assumed, and the evidence is sometimes contrary to expectation. P. J. Bickel, E. A. Hammel, J. W. O'Connell Determining whether discrimination because of sex or ethnic identity is be- ing practiced against persons seeking passage from one social status or locus to another is an important problem in our society today. It is legally impor- tant and morally important. It is also often quite difficult. This article is an exploration of some of the issues of measurement and assessment involved in one example of the general prob- lem, by means of which we hope to shed some light on the difficulties. We will proceed in a straightforward and indeed naive way, even though we know how misleading an unsophisti- cated approach to the problem is. We do this because we think it quite likely that other persons interested in ques- tions of bias might proceed in just the same way, and careful exposure of the mistakes in our discovery pro- cedure may be instructive. Data and Assumptions The particular body of data chosen for examination here consists of ap- plications for admission to graduate study at the University of California, Berkeley, for the fall 1973 quarter. In the admissions cycle for that quarter, the Graduate Division at Berkeley re- ceived approximately 15,000 applica- tions, some of which were later with- drawn or transferred to a different proposed entry quarter by the appli- cants. Of the applications finally re- maining for the fall 1973 cycle 12,763 were sufficiently complete to permit a Dr. Bickel is professor of statistics, Dr. Hammel is professor of anthropology and associ- ate dean of the Graduate Division, and Mr. O'Connell is a member of the data processing staff of the Graduate Division, at the University of California, Berkeley 94720. 398 deceision to admit or to deny admission. The question we wish to pursue is wheth- er the decision to admit or to deny was influenced by the sex of the applicant. We cannot know with any certainty the influences on the evaluatorsin the Graduate Admissions Office, or on the faculty reviewing committees, or on any other administrative personnelpar- ticipating in the chain of actions that led to a decision on an individual ap- plication. We can, however, say that if the admissions decision and the sex of the applicant are statistically asso- ciated in the results of a series of ap- plications, we may judge that bias existed, and we may then seek to find whether discrimination existed. By "bias" we mean here a pattern of as- sociation between a particular decision and a particular sex of applicant, of sufficient strength to make us con- fident that it is unlikely to be the re- sult of chance alone. By "discrimina- tion" we mean the exercise of decision influenced by the sex of the applicant when that is immaterial to the quali- fications for entry.
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  • Fall '16
  • Statistics, Chi-square distribution, R. A. Fisher

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