Thursday, May 29, 2014

Confirmation bias

Abstract from paper: 'Using data from actual auditions in an individual fixed-effects framework, we find that the screen increases by 50% the probability a woman will be advanced out of certain preliminary rounds. The screen also enhances, by severalfold, the likelihood a female contestant will be the winner in the final round. Using data on orchestra personnel, the switch to blind' auditions can explain between 30% and 55% of the increase in the proportion female among new hires and between 25% and 46% of the increase in the percentage female in the orchestras since 1970.'

My impression of the results: it seems that female musicians were and are genuinely less likely to be top performers (otherwise blind auditions would result in proportionate representation), but also that the magnitude of the difference was exaggerated in the minds of those evaluating--as if confirmation bias were playing a role in the evaluation of individual candidates. It wouldn't surprise me if a similar confirmation bias effect were in play in the software industry.

Deck thyself now with majesty and excellency; and array thyself with glory and beauty.
Cast abroad the rage of thy wrath: and behold every one that is proud, and abase him.
Look on every one that is proud, and bring him low; and tread down the wicked in their place.
Hide them in the dust together; and bind their faces in secret.
Then will I also confess unto thee that thine own right hand can save thee.

I could not love thee, dear, so much,
Loved I not Honor more.

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