Perceptions of women of color who claim compound discrimination: Interpersonal judgments and perceived credibility
Claims of compound discrimination (from women of color suffering from sexism and racism) are perceived as neither more troublemaking nor less credible than claims of sexism or racism alone
In the US, Title VII prohibits employment discrimination against members of marginalized groups. In the five decades since the implementation of Title VII, there have been debates about whether race and gender discrimination claims should be treated as separate claims or claims of compound discrimination. Compound discrimination is when an individual encounters two or more forms of discrimination simultaneously, such as claims of race and gender discrimination.
The ways in which members of marginalized groups are perceived when they make claims of sexist or racist discrimination impact their likelihood to report such claims. Evidence suggests that claimants may not be believed by the jurors or human resource workers who evaluate their cases, thereby affecting the ability of their grievances to be addressed by organizations or by the law.
In this study, researchers explored how women of color who claimed compound discrimination would be perceived compared to people who claimed discrimination from either sexism or racism alone. In particular, they focused on whether Black women and Asian women who claimed compound discrimination would be seen as more troublemaking and less credible if they claimed compound discrimination rather than one form of discrimination alone.
Claims of compound discrimination (from women of color experiencing from sexism and racism) are perceived as neither more troublemaking nor less credible than claims of sexism or racism alone.
- A Black woman claiming compound discrimination after being rejected from a job interview is not seen as more of a troublemaker than one claiming sexism or racism alone.
- Compared to an interview skills attribution, a racism claim, and a compound discrimination claim earned the candidate significantly higher troublemaker ratings.
- An Asian woman claiming compound discrimination, after being rejected from a job interview is not seen as less credible than one claiming sexism or racism alone.
- There is some evidence that an Asian woman claiming she was rejected due to compound discrimination is seen as more credible than one claiming that she was rejected due to her poor interview skills. This was not the case for an Asian woman claiming sexism or racism alone.
Researchers conducted this study in two parts. The first study, included 112 undergraduate students (66 of whom were women) as participants. Study 1 examined how much of a troublemaker participants perceived a Black woman to be when she claimed compound discrimination in response to being rejected for an interview, compared to claims of either sexism or racism alone. The participants were randomly sorted into one of four conditions, in which the rejected job applicant—a Black Woman—attributed being rejected from an interview to: racism, sexism, both racism and sexism, or poor interview skills. To calculate the “troublemaker” index for how much of a troublemaker the participants viewed the rejected candidate, the participants were asked to rate the candidate on how much they seemed to be: hypersensitive, like a complainer, irritating, like a troublemaker, and argumentative. The participants were also asked to rate the rejected applicant based on a “niceness” index, in which the participants were asked to rate how much the candidate appeared to be likeable, have a good personality, nice to have a conversation with, easy to get along with, considerate, and good to have as a friend. The second study, included 123 undergraduates and community members (66 of whom were women) as participants. Study 2 examined how credible participants perceived an Asian woman to be when she claimed compound discrimination in response to being rejected for an interview, compared to claims of either sexism or racism alone. Like the first study, the second study randomly sorted participants into one of four conditions, in which the rejected job applicant attributed being rejected from an interview to: racism, sexism, both racism and sexism, or poor interview skills. To calculate the “credibility” index, candidates were asked to rate the extent to which they thought the interviewer appeared to be prejudiced, biased, and fair. These questions included assessing their degree of agreement to statements such as “The candidate’s reaction to the hiring decision seemed appropriate.”