Hidden (Dis)Advantages of Class: How Cultural Signals of Class Shape Hiring Outcomes


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




When two workers with similar qualifications but observably different class backgrounds apply for a job, are they treated differently? To answer this question, this dissertation draws on data from three survey experiments and one multi-site field experiment. First, it analyzes how status-cultural traits—specifically, music and sports practices—with differing class associations are stereotyped in the US. Second, it examines the consequences these cultural signals of class have (when included in résumés) for the hiring decisions of employers and the hiring outcomes of male and female workers. Preliminary results reveal that status-cultural traits are fairly agreed-upon markers of social class and a significant basis for employment discrimination against lower-class women in customer-facing jobs. Together, these findings offer new insight into the cultural content of American class bias and its gendered labor market consequences.