Sex Bias in Graduate Admissions: Data from Berkeley

P. J. Bickel, E. A. Hammel, J. W. O'Connell
1975 Science  
Measuring bias is harder than is usually assumed, and the evidence is sometimes contrary to expectation. Determining whether discrimination because of sex or ethnic identity is being practiced against persons seeking passage from one social status or locus to another is an important problem in our society today. It is legally important 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
more » ... volved in one example of the general problem, 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 unsophisticated approach to the problem is. We do this because we think it quite likely that other persons interested in questions of bias might proceed in just the same way, and careful exposure of the mistakes in our discovery procedure may be instructive. Data and Assumptions The particular body of data chosen for examination here consists of applications 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that quarter, the Graduate Division at Berkeley received approximately 15,000 applications, some of which were later withdrawn or transferred to a different proposed entry quarter by the applicants. Of the applications finally remaining for the fall 1973 cycle 12,763 were sufficiently complete to permit a
doi:10.1126/science.187.4175.398 pmid:17835295 fatcat:3cv227rtvne5pccwb7bexd736m