Networks of Opportunity: Gender, Race and Job Leads
There are many theories that attempt to explain persistent inequalities in the labor market. Many focus on barriers such as race and gender, but language, ethnicity and other factors can also play a role.
A 2009 study published in the academic journal Social Problems, “Networks of Opportunity: Gender, Race and Job Leads,” examines how access to information about job openings might help explain the inequalities in the labor market. The authors note that employment information comes not only through ads but also social networks, family connections and targeted recruitment.
The study’s findings include:
- 35% of study participants reported having heard of at least one job lead through their regular communications with friends, family and colleagues.
- White women received 33% fewer job leads than white men; Hispanic men received 47% fewer; and Hispanic women 57% fewer.
- People for whom English is their second language received 60% fewer job leads than primary English speakers.
- People with exclusively white males in their social networks received 75% more job leads than people with no white males in their social networks.
- Workers who are employed at a full-time job receive about 63% more job leads than individuals who are not.
The study’s authors conclude that “social network characteristics help to explain the gap in job information between Hispanics and white males.” However, they say, further research is needed to explain the differences between white males and white females.
Tags: Hispanic, Latino, race, African-American, women and work
Note to instructor: The suggested assignments are designed for flexibility. They can be used in whole or part and can be adapted to a particular task -- for example, the newswriting assignments could be applied to the writing of the headline, the lead, the nut graph or the full story. Material from the assignments could also be combined with other material, for example, in the writing of a background, feature or local-angle story.
Read the Social Problems journal study "Networks of Opportunity: Gender, Race and Job Leads."
- Summarize the study in fewer than 40 words.
- Express the study's key term(s) in language a lay audience can understand.
- Evaluate the study's limitations. (For example: Do the results conflict with those of other reliable studies? Are there weaknesses in the study's data or research design?)
Read the issue-related Time magazine article "Why Do Women Still Earn Less Than Men?"
- If you were to rewrite the article based on knowledge of the study, what key changes would you make?
- Write a lead (or headline or nut graph) based on the study.
- Spend 60 minutes exploring the issue by accessing sources of information other than the study. Write a lead (or headline or nut graph) based on the study but informed by the new information. Does the new information significantly change what one would write based on the study alone?
- Interview two sources with a stake in or knowledge of the issue. Be prepared to provide them with a short summary of the study in order to get their response to it. Write a 400-word article about the study incorporating material from the interviews.
- Spend additional time exploring the issue and then write a 1,200-word background article, focusing on major aspects of the issue.