CFDP 2335

Selection in the Presence of Implicit Bias: The Advantage of Intersectional Constraints


Publication Date: June 2022

Pages: 52


In selection processes such as hiring, promotion, and college admissions, implicit bias toward socially-salient attributes such as race, gender, or sexual orientation produces persistent inequality and reduces utility for the decision-maker. Recent works show that interventions like the Rooney Rule, which require a minimum quota of individuals from each affected group, are very effective in improving utility when individuals belong to at most one affected group. However, in several settings, individuals belong to multiple affected groups and, consequently, face more extreme implicit bias due to this intersectionality. We consider independently drawn utilities and show that, with intersectionality, the aforementioned non-intersectional constraints only recover part of the utility achievable in the absence of implicit bias. On the other hand, we show that appropriate lower-bound constraints on the intersections recover almost all the utility achievable in the absence of implicit bias. And, hence, offer an advantage over non-intersectional approaches to reducing inequality.

Keywords: Implicit bias, selection, Hiring, Screening, Intersectionality, Intersectional biases, Affirmative Action, Rooney Rule, Antidiscrimination Policy, Social Factors on Decision Making

JEL Classification Codes: J71, J78, D91, D63

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