A new study released by Nextions consulting firm reveals a startling fact. If you’re black, chances of reviewers taking time to find errors in your writing are greater than those if you’re white.
When reviewers were told the author of a legal brief was black, they consistently rated identical pieces lower in quality and identified more spelling, grammar, factual or analytical errors.
Arin N. Revees, the president of Nextions and the author of the study, argues that the implicit racism happened because reviewers take the racial information she provided as a cue for how they should judge the work. When the author is supposed to be white, reviewers excused errors as out of haste or inexperience. They commented that the author “has potential” and was “generally a good writer but needs to work on” some skills. When the author is supposed to be black, those same errors became evidence of incompetence. A reviewer said he “can’t believe he [the author] went to NYU,” and others said he “needs lots of work” and was “average at best.”
Five lawyers from five different law firms were recruited by Nextions to co-write a research memo about trade secrets and internet start-ups. Then they inserted several errors in spelling, grammar, legal terminology, fact and analysis into the memos.
Then they created two different headers for the memo; identifying the author as “Thomas Meyer,” a third-year associate with a degree from the New York University School of Law, a top ranked school. On one version he was identified as white, the other, black.
The firm sent these otherwise identical memos to 60 different partners at law firms for review. The reviewers weren’t told that the experiment was about race.
Click here to read the study.
What does this study reveal about the depths of discrimination faced by African Americans?
How can we collective work towards equality?
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