SHERI NOTARO: I'm Sheri Notaro, and I'm an associate dean for Inclusion and Professional Development in the graduate school, and one of the five university diversity officers. On behalf of Lynette Chapell-Williams, Associate Vice President of Inclusion and Workforce Diversity and a university diversity officer, I would like to thank you for joining us for another presentation of the Inclusive Excellence Academy.
With the focus on the development of multicultural fluency, Cornell University's Inclusive . excellence Academy offers programs and access to subject matter experts to advance an inclusive educational environment and workplace. Today we have the honor of hosting Dr. Nancy DiTomaso, Vice Dean for Faculty and Research and Professor of Management and Global Business at Rutgers Business School, Newark and New Brunswick. Her research specialties include the management of diversity and change, the management of knowledge-based organizations, and the management of scientists and engineers.
She earned her PhD from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She also has a certificate in business administration from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and attended Proyecto Linguistico in Guatemala. She has co-authored or co-edited six books and has had articles published in such journals as Administrative Science Quarterly , Academy of Management Journal, Annual Review Of Sociology Leadership Quarterly, California Management Review, Sex Roles, and IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management.
She is currently conducting research and writing on organizational transformation and leadership, addressing issues such as the changes in the structure of organizations, work and careers, and the management skills needed for the coming decades. Her most recent book, and today's topic, The American Non-Dilemma-- Racial Inequality Without Racism, was recently published by the Russell Sage Foundation and printed at our own Cornell University Press. Please join me in welcoming Dr. Nancy DiTomaso.
NANCY DITOMASO: Thank you very much. I'm just absolutely delighted to be here. And I was told not to stand in front of the screen, so I may be over here more than there.
But I really appreciate the opportunity to come talk to you about the work that I've been doing and the ideas that have been in the making for a very long time. It only took me 20 years to do this book. So for those of you that understand how these things work, I'm delighted to be here.
So let me mention that what I would like to address-- I'm going to tell you about a number of things. But the key point that I want to get across is this emphasis on the issue of advantage, or favoritism, or privilege, or preference in contrast to thinking about issues of racial inequality through a lens of racism or discrimination. All the social science literature, most of the media focus on the negative framing of racism and discrimination.
And yet, I would argue that in the post-civil rights period, most racial inequality gets reproduced through whites helping other whites more than whites doing bad things to non-whites. So I want to talk about that. And I'm going to raise the issue as I go along that the distinction between advantage or discrimination may itself not even be the key point. It really has to do in the process-- as I'm going to show you-- more with advantage versus the absence of advantage, or the lack of advantage, as opposed to advantage versus disadvantage. And I'll show you as we get there what I mean by that.
And then I also want to talk about that so often when we talk about issues of long term inequality, racial inequality certainly being one of them, we widely articulate that the solution to those issues is equal opportunity. And I want to make the case, through the research that I've been doing, discussed at length in my book, that most people seek unequal opportunity. Even though they claim that they believe in equal opportunity, that isn't, in fact, how they live their lives. And I'm going to talk a bit about what that means.
And then finally, in so much of the discussions about racial inequality, we talk about giving people an opportunity to achieve their best. And we think about that in terms, particularly in the US, of individual achievement. But I'm going to show you in the research that I've been doing that people essentially tap into group-based networks or social capital, and yet, they somehow believe they did things on their own.
So those are kind of key themes that are in my book, but I'm going to talk to you about them through a series of different lenses. And then happy to deal with questions and so on as we go forward. By the way, I do have flyers on my book. I should get those out at some point and make them available.
And I think they're right here. Yes. So let me say that the book is about more than this. This is part of the discussion in the book. The book also addresses post-civil rights politics and trying to understand how, in the post-civil rights period, the competition between the Democratic and Republican Party for various groups of white voters can be understood in these general themes that I'm discussing. And then, of course, I've done other work on issues of inequality.
So this is a snapshot of my basic argument in this book. And I wanted to start there, because then when I talk about the specifics, you'll have an understanding of what it all is supposed to add up to. For the most part, white people don't think much about racial issues. They hardly ever talk about it. They don't think it has much to do with them.
But to the extent that they are asked to think about that, or if they think about it, and you ask them, why is there still racial inequality, they will assume that it has something to do with the fact that there are these prejudiced people out there that we might think of as "those racists." But for themselves, they believe that they are committed to colorblindness. So they're not racist. It's those other people somehow.
I particularly began thinking about this because for years, starting in the mid-1980s, in the business school, I taught courses in managing diversity in organizations. And what I found in my courses, mostly white MBA students, I found everybody was nice. Everybody believed in civil rights. Nobody discriminated. Everybody believed in equal opportunity.
And so I began to think to myself, why do we have these problems of racial inequality if we don't have any racists? And so that's how I came to think about these issues. So again, when people think about the problems of racial inequality, they say, it's those racists, which isn't me because I'm colorblind, but they never think about these hidden dynamics by which they ended up benefiting from favoritism or advantage being used on their behalf that contributed to their life outcomes in ways that they didn't have to be racist in order to get those benefits.
Then also, whites who, trying to explain issues of racial inequality say, well, there are these prejudiced people, those racists, and those racists discriminate. But not me, because I'm committed to equal opportunity. But again, they don't think about the fact that, again, they spend their lives seeking unequal opportunity.
And we use the language-- I started talking about this early on and it seems to work well. When we think about, for example, what we want for our children, we talk about wanting to give them advantages. We want to help them get ahead.
That's the kind of language that we use. And we mean that literally. We mean, getting in front of someone else and being able to do better than they are. So although we talk about the commitment to equal opportunity, in fact, nobody wants equal opportunity. We want to be in competitions we know we're going to win. And we don't want to take our chances in not having the opportunity to be the winner of that job, that opportunity, whatever is coming along.
So again, whites don't often think about race and racial inequality, even though it pervades lots of things in their lives. If they do, they think, well, it's because of those racists, the people that either haven't gotten over it, or are part of the older generation, or working class people, who then discriminate. Or they think somehow because I don't really see many of those racist discriminating people, the problem must be what blacks do themselves.
And it must be because they haven't made the effort. They don't take responsibility. Or many of the people that I talked to in my book said, well, because they don't have hope. They don't understand how to get out of the situations that they're in.
But they think of their own lives, that I worked hard. I made the effort. I was motivated. I persisted. That's why I did what I did in my life. And if those people would just do it the way I did, then they would be OK.
However, when they say that-- and my interviewees would say, if those people could just do what I did in my life-- they don't mean that I knew the right people who helped me get jobs. What they mean was that if they would just work hard, take responsibility, and so on.
So although they are tapping into all that help that they get in terms of their careers and their life, they somehow think they did it on their own. So it's an "I built that" kind of mentality, even though their life histories is not, in fact, that way. So I make the overall argument-- and this, again, will be a theme throughout my presentation-- that our focusing on racists and discriminators as the reason why we have racial inequality is something that actually allows whites to remove themselves from the story, to believe that racial inequality is not about them. But somehow it's about these other people.
And in doing that, essentially they can benefit from the existence of racial inequality without having to be racist, or have hostile feelings, or do bad things to people. What I argue, actually, is that the ultimate white privilege is the privilege not to be a racist, and that we have missed that aspect of our understanding about racial inequality. So let me move, then, to some of the evidence.
And I'd like to share briefly, although maybe in too much detail, we'll see, results from three studies. One of this was done by friends of mine. And then two of the studies is my own work. And I'm going to try and highlight for you the results of these studies to get at this issue about how whites benefit from the reproduction of racial inequality in ways that they can gain benefits without having to do bad things to people on an individual basis.
So I'm going to give you some results from a national study based on the work of Kevin Stainback and Don Tomaskovic-Devey from a book that was published just before mine, which is based on EEOC-1 reports from 1966 to 2005. And this is all private sector workplaces that have to do these reports. And as you know, the EEOC-1 report is the government contractors and others of a certain size who have to report on the composition of their workforces.
And so this data, these data, are looking at what has happened in terms of desegregation since the Civil Rights Movement. And then I'm going to talk about my work, which is at the organizational level, individuals and organizations, which was a study of scientists and engineers. We had data from 24 major US companies, 3,200 scientists and engineers about their career experiences.
And specifically, about their performance evaluation on a couple of different dimensions-- innovativeness and promotability into management. And these data I analyzed in two different ways. I'm going to show you briefly both aspects of it. One looking at race, ethnicity, and gender, and then the other looking at gender and family structure.
And you'll see that it has some similarity. And then finally, the book is my interview study, which was interviews with 246 white people between the ages of 25 and 55 in New Jersey, Ohio, and Tennessee, where I got very detailed educational and job histories and their views on public policy. And I'm going to just show you a little bit of that.
OK, so first of all, the work from Kevin Stainback and Don Tomaskovic-Devey on private sector workplaces from 1966 to 2005. And given that this work is 50 years after the Civil Rights Movement, we might ask ourselves the question, what has happened since Civil Rights was passed? These are their basic findings that I'm going to show you, again very, very quickly, in terms of some of their analysis.
First of all, since the Civil Rights Movement was passed and all the legislation and court cases and so on that have emerged since then, essentially, what they found is that white men have not only retained their access to the best jobs, but they actually have even had increased representation in some occupations and fields since the Civil Rights Movement. The second thing is, in terms of the desegregation between white men and black men, there was a slight decline in desegregation after the Civil Rights Movement was passed up until about 1980. And then nothing has happened since then. So for 35 years, there's been no further desegregation in terms of the jobs that black men hold compared to white men, particularly among the best jobs.
There has been more change for white women in terms of access to professional and managerial jobs, in particular, but that change started slowly, accelerated a bit, and then not much has changed since 2000 for white women. And even though those changes have taken place, white women are still nowhere near the representation of white men in these best jobs. And then finally, for black women, there was very high segregation between black women and white men in terms of the kinds of jobs that they held. That didn't change much at all. Slight shift over time, but not much. And still very, very high segregation.
So that's kind of the summary. I'm going to show you the tables and then go through it very quickly, just so that you can see the patterns that we're talking about. OK, so this is the overall pattern in terms of desegregation of jobs since the Civil Rights Movement, using EEOC-1 data, all private sector workforces that had to report those data. And this dimension here is an index of segregation.
And essentially, what that means is the proportion of people who would have to change jobs in order to say that the jobs weren't segregated. So this would have to be zero in order to say that people are equally distributed. And to the extent that it's not zero, it means that proportion of people would have to move in order to make it equal.
So essentially, this line is black men. So you see that 65% of black men at the point the Civil Rights Movement was passed would have had to change jobs. There was a slight decline, and then again, nothing since 1980. And so now it's 60%. Slight change, but not much.
This is black women. Yeah, slight decline, but very high and stayed very high. And then this is white women. Slow initially, some acceleration, but then kind of leveling off around 2000.
So essentially, we have this image that a lot changed since the Civil Rights Movement. But when you're talking about which jobs people are in, in the private sector, not much. And certainly not nearly as much as we think.
This is managerial jobs, people who hold managerial jobs, although this goes from 1980 to 2005. And as you see here-- and the way you would read this table is above the zero, is overrepresentation in managerial jobs given the proportion in the labor force. And below the zero is the under-representation given the representation in the labor force.
So as you see, this is white men. They were way overrepresented and basically nothing has changed in terms of their representation in managerial jobs. And if you look more detailed, in some cases, they've actually enhanced. So only social services where their representation has declined to some extent.
This is black women. Almost no change and very, very under-represented. This is black men. Slight change, but not much. And this is white women. So yeah, there's been some improvement for white women. They're still under-represented.
This is representation in professional jobs. And here, white men, basically no change. Substantially overrepresented, have been, still are. This is black and white men-- black men and black women, sorry. Again, slight shift, but not much. Substantially under-represented.
And this is white women. White women have almost reached the point where their representation in professional jobs is approximately the same as their proportion in the labor force, in the professional labor force, although still not quite there. And of course, nowhere near for white men.
So that's what has happened in terms of since the Civil Rights Movement. Now, one final table. I'm not going to try and identify these lines, but this table was from an earlier article they did from 1966 to 2002. And this includes white men and Hispanic men, white men and Asian men, white men and Asian women, white men and Asian men-- Hispanic men and women. Anyhow.
But basically, again, you see the same thing, very flat. The only lines here that tend to go down are the white women in terms of the jobs they hold with white men, and I think it's Asian women compared to jobs they hold with white men. But not much since the Civil Rights Movement.
OK, so now I'd like to shift from the data from this particular book back to my own work, but to raise some questions about this transitioning into my work. So one of the questions then is, why hasn't there been more change given the impact that we believe should have taken place given the Civil Rights Movement? And I would argue it's because we have focused more on discrimination of whites toward non-whites and have overlooked the favoritism that takes place in terms of whites helping each other.
The law also makes that institutional. It is illegal to discriminate. It's not illegal to help your friends. And therefore, the kind of protections that we have against these kinds of inside edge for jobs aren't really there unless someone is paying attention to it.
So maybe-- yeah. So this is what I said before. The reason I started thinking about this is because I was teaching these courses and found everybody was nice. Everyone believed in civil rights. No one discriminated. So why do we still have inequality? Or as I said, why do we still have racial inequality if we don't have any racists?
And the reason is maybe we're looking at the wrong things. Again, if you-- and I started my project, by the way, trying to read across a large number of fields, trying to see how they thought about issues of inequality. And again, everyone is focused on the negative. Stereotypes, prejudice, discrimination, racism, sexism, and so on. Basically, doing bad things to people.
And no one is paying attention to that other part, which is whites doing good things for each other. I'm going to talk more about that if you want, but I want you to think, again, about this set of distinctions in terms of people's career experiences. Most of the literature is focused here on keeping people out, being biased against people, making decisions that exclude people from jobs.
And we have not given much attention at all to people who are helping their friends and family members and the people they identify with and people who are like them. And there's been almost no attention to this other issue, this absence of advantage, or what Marilynn Brewer calls the absence of equivalent favoritism.
And I'm going to show you in my data that the action tends to be here, between advantage and the absence of advantage. But all of our attention has been here on this disadvantage. And so we need to understand that. That's the other key point.
And again, this is not just different sides of the same coin, because it's illegal to discriminate against people. Discrimination is harm that is done to you despite what you do. Whereas favoritism is not illegal, which is the help that people do for you despite what you don't do.
And so these are not just the other side of the coin. And it's very consequential to see this differently. Again, there is a cognitive effect in terms of these distinctions. If you discriminate and actively try to keep people out or exclude them from jobs, you feel bad about yourself, because civil rights and the belief in equality is normative in the country. If you are simply helping your friends and help someone get a job, you feel good about yourself. So that's a very different kind of cognitive experience.
Similarly, it has political implications. If you were discriminating or felt that other people were doing it, you might feel motivated to do something. But if you're simply helping your friends, there isn't a political solution to that because it's not illegal behavior. Again, we can talk more about that.
OK, so now I want to talk about my work in this regard and how I came to be thinking about this. So I want to share, again very briefly, with you some of the data from this survey that we did of 3,200 scientists and engineers in 24 companies. And this study was computer and mathematical science, life and related sciences, and engineering people in large, multibillion dollar companies that had R&D labs.
And just to think about the kinds of issues that are of concern-- that's not all in this study, but just to keep us thinking about this-- I'm really talking about both allocation decisions and evaluation decisions. Allocation decisions are things like access to jobs, good job assignments, opportunities to perform, resources to do the job, having networks, inside information, getting visibility, those kinds of things. Evaluation decisions is when people are giving you the benefit of the doubt, assuming that you're competent, hiring you for your promise as opposed to your performance, and so on. Just to kind of keep those in mind.
Now, let me mention that, again, I'm just showing you a snapshot of some of the results from this study. I should mention it took me 10 years to publish this paper. That's another story. So and go.
OK, so this is a regression analysis. It's just showing you some coefficients from the analysis in which we are predicting two kinds of outcomes. One is what in science and engineering is called the access to technical control. And the other is what we called in the paper access to mentors.
Access to technical control is defined as the ability to make the decision about the kind of research you do. You get to kind of choose your project versus having a manager tell you what kind of project to work on. And then access to mentors is basically what we know it to be.
And what we did in this study is we divided the sample into groups, depending on if we had enough people in the sample to break them out. I think we said we had to have at least 40 or so in that group in order to break them out. But I did one small thing in this analysis that changed the whole picture, is in most studies of labor force inequality, people leave out of the equation white men and then compare everybody else and look for the negative coefficients.
What I did is left white men in the equation and left another group out. And you see a very different picture, particularly, even though they're mathematically equivalent, you see it differently. And I fought very hard to try and tell reviewers that.
So what you see is, in terms of access to technical control-- and this is controlling for PhD, patents, publications, experience, the desire for technical control, the style of work, the proportion of white raters, and several interactions with white raters, meaning whites rating other whites and so on. And what you see is that US born white men and non-US born white men are more likely to have access to technical control. Everybody else is mostly zero, except for black women who has a negative coefficient.
Now, if you look at access to mentors, it doesn't look like that. Actually, white women and black women, US born, are more likely to say they have access to mentors, whereas white non-US born men are likely to say they don't. And others, it's basically zero. So again, in terms of access to technical control, the ability to define the kind of research you do, white men get those kinds of advantages over others. Mentors, turns out, US born women say they're more likely to have it.
OK, so then what difference does that make? Now we're looking at how they are rated in their performance. In this case, whether they're rated as innovative, contributing to the main thing that these organizations want them to do. And the other thing is whether they're evaluated as promotable into management.
And what you see is those people who get access to technical control get evaluated as more innovative and as more promotable. And mentoring has no effect whatsoever. So essentially, women are getting advice. Men are getting opportunity. White men are getting opportunity.
And then importantly, for the most part, everybody else is zero. So it's not advantage and disadvantage. It's advantage and the absence of advantage, or indifference.
So it's not that anyone's doing anything to you. They're just not paying special attention and reaching out to make sure that you get some help, all right? With the exception of black women, tend to be in this less favorable situation. And it turns out that white women are seen as promotable, even though they're not seen as more technically capable.
OK, so let me then call your attention to the fact-- because of all those things we controlled for-- that these results are not explained by the company people work for, their past performance in terms of patents and publications, who rated them. It's not because white men rated them. Everybody gives white men these higher ratings. And instead, it's explained by who's in the most normative, high powered positions. And it's more advantage than disadvantage, while most groups get treated with indifference.
Now, exactly the same kind of analysis, but this time looking at gender and family structure. And here, in terms of access to technical control, basically, men get it in all kinds of family structures, mostly married men. For women, it's mostly negative. And again, what difference does it make if you have access to technical control, which married men are more likely to have?
They're more likely to get evaluated as innovative. And even beyond that, then they get additional benefit of the doubt in terms of the evaluation of them as innovative, whereas again, women's coefficients are either zero or negative. So we have exactly the same kind of results when we're talking about married men versus women as we did with whites versus blacks and others.
So again, these gender effects are not explained by the company, by past patents and publications, by whether men rated them versus others. But instead, it's what I could say is a structural advantage. And it's advantage more than disadvantage. And it's advantages mostly toward men with indifference toward most women or those in nontraditional families.
So let me show this to you in a slightly different way. Because advantage, basically, was whites, especially US born white men and married men, get greater access to favorable work experiences and then the benefit of the doubt in performance appraisal. Meaning they get rated higher than their past performance would suggest, even net of having extra advantages in terms of access to technical control.
US born black women and those in nontraditional families tend to experience this disadvantage. But mostly, people are having just simply the average, the indifference. The fact that they're not getting any favor. They're not getting disfavor or favor, just no one's paying attention to how their careers are going.
And let me mention, I drew this particular framework in part from work by Susan Fiske, who is a psychologist at Princeton. And she has many colleagues where she has this article called-- it's about stereotype content. And she and her colleagues argued that most stereotypes have two dimensions.
There are dimensions about how competent you are and how nice you are. Nice, warm, not threatening, those kind of dimensions. And essentially, those that are in this normative dominant position tend to be evaluated as both competent and nice. So this is where white men fall.
Black women happen to show down here as both not being thought of as competent and not being thought of as cooperative and nice, right? But most people tend to fall into these ambivalent categories, with white women in particular being thought of as nice but not competent, promotable but not technically capable. And immigrants tend to show down here as being competent, but not particularly nice, not management material.
So again, inequality tends to get reproduced through the processes of advantage to those that already have it, and then indifference or ambivalence toward everybody else. And only if a group is seen as particularly threatening to the existing status quo, making demands for certain kinds of outcomes, will they be thought of in terms of the neither competent nor nice category. So I'm going to just leave that hanging there and we can come back to it if you want.
So in terms of the survey study, from my study and others, let me just tell you some of the implications of these findings is that the processes of advantages are accumulated over time. They're likely to be subtle, invisible, and not particularly well understood, either by the people who are advantaged or the ones who are not. That instead we tend to personalize things and think it has something to do with us as opposed to the categorical differences.
Advantages for whites, or in this particular case married men, appear to be more important than the disadvantages for non-whites or women. And again, to the extent that we focus so much on the discrimination disadvantage, racism, sexism stuff, we'll miss a great deal of the action. And then, again, most groups have the experience of simply no one paying attention to them. And the consequences of this will accumulate over time.
OK, so I'm about, now, to shift into the interview study that is the book that we're talking about. Should I ask if there are any questions about this before I shift gears here? Or should we just-- yes, ma'am.
AUDIENCE: I have a question about how did Affirmative Action fit into all of that? [INAUDIBLE]. I worked for a company in the '80s, and we had a big-- we always got trained in Affirmative Action. And we had to give the jobs to-- you interviewed people and they trained us [INAUDIBLE]. I just wondered, in your statistics-- but then that changes. I mean, now there's a-- they're trying not to do Affirmative Action. And I'm just wondering--
NANCY DITOMASO: All of these companies were multibillion dollar government contractors. They had to be. So I'm sure every single one of them was under the presidential orders for Affirmative Action. And yet, these are the outcomes, because again, no one was paying attention to the advantages that white men were getting. They were only paying attention to make sure no one was discriminating.
NANCY DITOMASO: No, well-- no.
AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] similar resumes, I choose the minority because [INAUDIBLE].
NANCY DITOMASO: Well, let's talk about that--
NANCY DITOMASO: Yes, but that's not what affirmative action is, right? Affirmative action is that you have to hire people within a certain proportion of the available qualified workforce that is within your recruiting domain. So it's not you have to hire the minority if they're equal. It's that within 80% of the proportion of qualified available workforce. But again, all of these companies were subject to Affirmative Action and no one was paying attention to these dynamics.
NANCY DITOMASO: No, right. And you saw the data on desegregation. I don't want to shift into a lot of-- I just wanted to see if there were any clarification questions.
NANCY DITOMASO: Sure.
AUDIENCE: So how is innovation-- how is innovation defined? I notice that there [INAUDIBLE].
NANCY DITOMASO: Yes, yes.
NANCY DITOMASO: The survey was based on a lot of previous work on things that dealt with science and engineering. I don't remember the exact question, but it was something to the effect of, to what extent-- again, it was a performance appraisal. We had people who filled out the survey and then we had their managers.
And we asked them to evaluate this person within, I think it was an 11-point scale from how many people were they better than? 10%, 20%, 30%, up to 100%. And we had managers evaluate all the people we surveyed. And we had the survey people sort of matched with managers.
And the question was something along, to what extent have has this person made contributions that are new and useful for the organization? So it was a question that was fairly typical in this kind of stuff. And then the other-- the promotability item was, to what extent would this person be promotable into management if a job were available? And then, compared to how many people-- 10%, 20%, and so on? We had like 700 managers and 3,200 scientists and engineers.
AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] in groups that are receiving the indifference are also the groups that are getting the most mentoring some kind of a progressive [INAUDIBLE] seen as [INAUDIBLE] and not an opportunity [INAUDIBLE]. And so-- but it seems-- and you probably [INAUDIBLE].
NANCY DITOMASO: Yeah, I would say that's one of the reasons it took 10 years to publish this paper, because nobody wanted to hear that mentoring didn't work. And that women were getting mentoring and it wasn't effective. But again, I have some other stuff that I would say that women were getting advice, men were getting opportunity. So mentoring often means job advice.
It's not someone looking out for your interests and making sure that you get opportunities. So I know we could keep going on this. OK, these two questions and then I think I'd like to move on.
AUDIENCE: Thinking about this in terms of the analogy to preventative medicine versus reactive medicine [INAUDIBLE] making laws to prevent harm. But the harm has occurred and we aren't structurally thinking about this from a preventative standpoint [INAUDIBLE].
NANCY DITOMASO: Well, I don't know if it's along the lines of where I'm going, but again, the way the law is written is to prevent harm defined as purposely, intentionally, and purposefully keeping people out of jobs that they're otherwise qualified for. And the issue is that if that's the way we define it, you're not going to be able to change the outcome, particularly unless you can count who's hiring whom over some period of time. And to the extent that we have been forced to move away from that kind of accountability, then no one's paying attention, particularly, when these are one decision at a time.
So we can come back to that at some point, but in lots-- even in large companies like this, again, everyone's focused on don't discriminate. They're not focused on don't help your friends. I think there's one more question.
NANCY DITOMASO: On what?
NANCY DITOMASO: Well, most companies aren't even doing this, again, because the way the data are reported make it difficult to do much. And the government doesn't-- even when affirmative action was being responded to, there still were very few lawsuits or any penalties. It was more sort of after AT&T in 1984, there was not much after that, right? In terms of affirmative action. I think one more-- no, no more. OK.
OK, so now I'd like to go onto the book, which is based on this interview study that I did of whites between the ages of 25 and 55 in three states. And I got detailed job histories of all these people. Most of these people were randomly selected. We used what are called criss-cross phone directories, which are organized by address instead of by name.
We picked certain characteristics of various zip codes. And then sent people letters, and then called them by phone and asked if they'd be willing to be interviewed about their educational and job histories and how they got to where they are in their lives. And that's kind of how I did this. This is methodology that I copied from Michele Lamont, who's currently at Harvard, and that's what we did.
So when I'm talking about the help that people get getting jobs, this extra help, essentially, we defined it in terms of three things. Information that other people didn't have, like this company is hiring, so we go apply for that job. Influence-- someone who would use their influence on your behalf, such as this is my friend, look out for them. Or someone who could actually hire you, like you live next door to someone who owns a company and they can hire you for the summer. And then there's always this issue of positivity bias, or this benefit of the doubt.
And so this kind of collectively is called social capital. And social capital is like other kinds of capital, like money. You can invest it. You can borrow it. You can loan it. And if you're not part of the networks, you often don't have it, but other people can either help you, as I often found. And that takes place all the time for certain kinds of people.
So again, this is a repeat of that chart that I showed you at the beginning in terms of my overall argument in the book. Again, the book is called The American Non-Dilemma, because it is an allusion to Gunnar Myrdal's work from years ago, The American Dilemma, where he argued that Americans would be moved to do something about racial inequality because of the incompatibility between racial inequality and the egalitarian values of the US. And my book is trying to explain why that hasn't taken place, why most whites either don't think about race and don't feel particularly compelled to do anything about it.
And at least the first part of the book, again, my argument is because of favoritism of whites toward other whites, more than discrimination of whites toward non-whites, is one of the reasons why whites don't feel a moral dilemma, because they don't have to do bad things. As I already mentioned, unequal opportunity instead of equal opportunity and the belief that they did it on their own, even though they're pursuing group-based advantage, or again, my argument that the ultimate white privilege is the privilege not to be a racist and still benefit from racial inequality.
OK, so again, I only interviewed a couple hundred people in three different parts of the country. But these were very intensive interviews. I did them all myself.
I went to people's homes. I sometimes met them in restaurants, occasionally at a local university. All across the country. Sent my kids to camp so I could go do this, which of course, was a benefit for them.
But OK, so here's the kind of basic data from the book. This is the proportion of jobs for which people got help over their lifetimes. And this is first job, second job, third job, and so on, up to the tenth job. Now, not everybody had 10 jobs, and some people had more than 10 jobs, but this is the basic picture. And then this is the proportion of people in my sample who got help on the first job, the second job, and so on.
And basically, what this tells you-- and this is working class is red, middle class is blue, defined by whether you have a college degree or not. And this says that 70% of the jobs people had over their lifetime, they got information, influence, or opportunity from somebody that probably had an effect in terms of getting that job.
Then it starts out high, somewhere around 60%, and then it moves up to 70-something over time. The average overall is about 70%. For women, the average is around 60%. For men, the average is about 76%. So it's very high.
So if 70% of the jobs are passed along because someone can help you, what does that say about a labor market? I mean, essentially, almost every job is wired. And so what do we mean when we talk about go in the labor market and compete for a job and the best person gets the job when everyone is getting some inside edge?
Now, what about the 30% of jobs that didn't include some help, of the people that told me about these jobs? Some of them were, as one of my interviewee's said, when one job is as bad as another, you don't need to draw on social capital to get that kind of a job. In a couple cases, there were people who got jobs during the Vietnam War when employers were hiring anybody who could breathe. So they didn't need special help when the labor market was that tight.
There were a couple engineers that got jobs through the school placement services. So they didn't need help, or at least they're not direct help in terms of that kind of thing. And then there were a few people who had the help, but they weren't competent enough to use it. So that's the other 30%.
So in jobs that were passed along with help, there isn't really a class difference here in terms of working class versus middle class. Of the jobs that didn't need help, it's probably more working class, although I didn't really measure that. This is the gender breakdown. There is a gender breakdown.
Men are more likely to get help. It starts high, it gets even higher than women. Although again, for women it's 60%. For men it's 76%. Why that distinction? Because women's jobs don't pay a family wage to the same extent, or as frequently. So again, if the job isn't one that provides a substantial advantage, then you don't need to draw on your resources and networks to get that kind of a job.
So again, I basically found that most people get help throughout their careers. These social connections seem to be necessary for all kinds of jobs. These were large employers, small employers, public agencies, entrepreneurial firms, equal opportunity employers, school systems, public agencies. Everybody said, if you don't know someone, you basically don't get a job in the school system. Or if you don't know someone, you're not going to get that job.
In companies, equal opportunity employers. I knew someone I went to high school with. I happened to run into them. They put their arm around me. They said, this is my friend, look out for him. All kinds of jobs. There really wasn't a differentiation in that regard. And then again, many jobs are not really on the market. So when we use this language of the job market, I think we're sometimes mischaracterizing.
OK, so again, there's cumulative advantage. Getting help early in your career leads to more opportunities as you go along. And as you get more of these opportunities, you're more likely to be the best person for the job. So when all of my interviewees said the best person should get the job, well, often that's the one who got the inside edge.
Now, many of the people that I talked to, again, didn't seem to know that this is what had actually happened, because when I asked them, how did you get to where you are in your life, they said, because I worked hard, because I was smart. In fact, many of the people that I talked to who got every job through these kind of inside help would say, nobody helped me. These hands, I did it myself. Why can't those people do it the way I did?
They don't see that kind of help. But in fact, they did get a lot of help. I don't remember where I was going with that, but nevertheless. Over time, positioning someone for skills and training is then what makes them able to get these jobs later. Oh, I know I was going to say.
Most of the time people didn't hear themselves tell me about all this help they got. But every once in a while, and I would say, and how did you get that job? Did you happen to know anyone there? And they would start to tell me the story. Sometimes they'd kind of look at me from the side as if, well, you know, you understand.
But they treat all these as the exception. They would say, well, that just got me in the door. Then I had to prove myself, right? What they never thought about is if someone else had gotten in the door, maybe they could have proved themselves and develop these skills. So again, people, if they did think about the help they got, they dismissed it or discounted it or thought of it as not consequential.
OK, so although my book is focused on racial inequality, I would say that any kind of long term inequality has some of these dynamics-- gender inequality, ethnic, nationality, even diversity of thought. I've done some work on that. And other forms of diversity.
So there is-- usually, those people that are in the normative, dominant positions that have better access to resources, authority, decision making will look out for those that they feel are like them. Friends, family members, or people with whom they identify, or people for whom they have a sense of obligation. And they won't think about this somehow as violation of norms against discrimination, because they're not doing any bad things to people.
OK, so what are the implications of these three studies, I guess, three stories, is that so equal opportunity employers frequently aren't. That access to good jobs are often passed along to family, friends, and people in the same networks. And getting a job, again, can help someone become the best person for the job.
To underline the point that I was making again, that by the focus on racism, discrimination, and so on, we aren't understanding that when whites get advantages, they have the privilege not to be a racist. When men get advantages, they have the privilege not to be a sexist.
And this is privilege that is completely legal. It's benefit of the doubt from everybody, because they have this normative position as the prototype for people who belong in those kinds of positions. And it's privilege that's completely routine. So we need to think about those issues.
I could-- I guess I should go on here. What are the consequences of that? As I said, there's no moral dilemma, no sense among whites that they should be doing something about racial inequality, because they don't think that they've done it, that they've participated. There is what some scholars have called a principle policy gap, a belief in the principle of civil rights, but opposition to the policies that might bring it about.
And essentially, whites see themselves as part of the solution as opposed to part of the problem, because they believe in civil rights, right? They don't think anybody should be discriminated against. So they don't understand why there's a problem. If there is a problem, it's those racists, but that's not me.
I would argue that this reproduction of inequality through mechanisms of advantage or privilege or favoritism essentially maintains the legitimacy of long term inequality. Again, because people don't believe that they have contributed to the long term inequality. They are nice people who care about their neighbors and their community and their family and their friends.
So as long as we continue, as academics, or as the media, to focus on those racists as the problem, we won't understand what's going on and we won't be able to change the dynamics in terms of reproduction of inequality, racial inequality. And whites, again, will see themselves blameless. As long as we think about equal opportunity as the standard and don't pay attention to the unequal opportunity that people tap into, we won't understand what is actually going on in terms of people actively, intentionally, and purposely seeking unequal opportunity for themselves and for their families.
And as long as the group-based nature and relational quality of inequality is masked because of our strong belief in individual achievement, we won't understand, again, what's going on. So the overall implication for universities, for organizations, for the society in general is that people are able to perform if they get access to opportunities and resources to do well in those opportunities. Leaders need to pay attention to these issues-- who's getting rewards and special favors and from whom.
We need to think about this issue of the benefit of the doubt and who's getting these extra advantages, understand that this is cumulative, and also realize that nothing is going to change if we don't purposefully change it. So workplace inequality will be reproduced unless we recognize and then change what we're doing. We need to understand the issue of bias for as opposed to bias against.
And even more so, bias for as opposed to indifference.
And again, what I talked about had data from all private sector firms in the last 50 years, employment practices in large companies across the country, and then individual job histories, all pointing to the same thing. Namely, that whites continue to get advantage and have and still do. And we don't seem to understand why that takes place and why we don't seem to be able to change things more.
So that's it.
I'm happy to take questions. There's a question here.
NANCY DITOMASO: I think it's on.
AUDIENCE: OK. So sociologist Sandra Smith, who studies--
NANCY DITOMASO: Who is the sociologist?
AUDIENCE: Sandra Smith.
NANCY DITOMASO: Yes, from Berkeley. Yeah, I know Sandra. Sandy.
AUDIENCE: --who studies the referring behavior for jobs. And she's been studying in high poverty, predominantly African-American communities. And what I think that she's found is that there's often distrust and fear of reputation concerns that prevents people in these communities from providing the job assistance. And I was wondering if you saw similar reputation concerns or distrust coming up in your predominantly white [INAUDIBLE] data?
NANCY DITOMASO: Well again, Sandra Smith is University of California at Berkeley. And she's done this book called Lone Pursuit, where she makes the argument, based on the interviews that she did with blacks around Detroit, that blacks don't help each other because they feel more vulnerable in their jobs. And so there is that possibility.
If you somehow feel that if you recommend a friend who might screw up, that's going to make you look bad. And you are, therefore, likely to be very cautious about who you will recommend. There have been some other research that tends to support that, that when blacks particularly use personal networks to find jobs, the jobs they find tend to be worse jobs than they would find if they went through formal process.
But I don't know how far to take that. I mean, it may be the case that whites who are in vulnerable positions also won't recommend their friends. But I don't think I saw that. And again, for those that got help, I didn't find a class difference. I found working class people getting jobs.
I also found, by the way, which maybe suggests that it doesn't work quite the same way for whites as Sandra is suggesting for blacks, that a number of people in my study, when I interviewed them, had screwed up. They'd gotten involved in drugs and alcohol and arrested for various crimes. And some cases, took the wrong pathway.
And by the time they got to their mid-20s, someone in their family said, it's time to straighten up and they pulled them in. So they got them jobs even if they hadn't merited it. So I don't see this as just about merit. I mean, there was one guy that wanted to do the electronics for bands. And he was getting involved in drugs and so on. But when the time came, his family found him a job.
Another one had gotten arrested and lost his driver's license. He left the state. And again, by the time he married and he was in his mid-20s, his uncle said, come on home. I can get you a job. In this case, in the stock market.
Another one would have gone to college, but he couldn't pass, I think, Spanish test or something. And was working in a foundry, and found it really hard. Well, it turns out all of his wife's family worked at the post office, so they kind of helped him get a job at the post office.
So I didn't necessarily see the examples of people who felt somehow that they couldn't help their friends. There might have been some who didn't. But I saw a number of examples of people who might have fallen into that category who, nevertheless, got help.
When they're recording, I think they want to--
AUDIENCE: So actually, so I just wanted to comment [INAUDIBLE]. It makes perfect sense, based on your research and the other sociologist's research, in terms of what you were saying about being concerned or not being given special favor, or being seen as competent, or being seen as training or-- I forgot what your word was. If you have a black person that has, quote unquote, "made it," whatever that means for them, so they have a job that other people see, why then would you, sir, invite a friend who might then taint your image that you've now worked so hard to gain?
And someone else can come in, and just like that, it's over for you if they mess up. Versus white folks who have this view of, I know you messed up, but I'm sure you can do better. That's that same concept, but it's not the same for black people. So I could definitely see why, and that's just my opinion [INAUDIBLE].
NANCY DITOMASO: Actually, one of the other books that has a very similar argument is Katherine Newman, No Shame in My Game, about finding jobs at McDonald's in Harlem, or Burger King, or whatever it is. But actually, I take back what I said, because I do remember a couple instances-- I was not thinking about them.
An engineer that I talked to was currently unemployed and was looking for jobs, but he said that his uncle knew some people at this company, but his cousin had screwed up. And then his uncle wouldn't help him because of that. And then another one who said that he worked in-- his father worked in an auto factory and had helped both his brother and his brother-in-law get jobs there. But both of them quit. And so then the father said, you're on your own.
But this guy said, who said over and over again, so I had to do it on my own. But he also said, well, I knew a quarter of the county, so why did I have to get an education? Because he had fostered all these relationships through sports and so on, because his brother was the quarterback of the football team and so on. So there were some examples of that, of people who had the opportunities they might have had cut off because someone had screwed up. But they had enough density in their social capital, in their networks, that they could find help through other means. Yes.
AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] on the individual level in your last interview [INAUDIBLE]. So I completely agree with all of your arguments [INAUDIBLE]. And at the same time, women especially are getting all this influx of, but don't have the inferiority complex and the [INAUDIBLE] complex.
And so, if we had-- and I clearly admit I've had a lot of good networking and a lot of good opportunity because of other people, but then I shouldn't discount my own accomplishments too. But what, on an individual level, can white people, advantaged people, do to not put themselves down, [INAUDIBLE] others?
NANCY DITOMASO: I'm not sure whether I can address that specifically. The way I talked about it in the book was that it was a paradox, or a dilemma, or a contradiction that people believe nobody makes it on their own, but nobody makes without their own effort. So they all focused on nobody makes it without their own effort and emphasized the effort they made, and they forgot about the part, nobody makes it on their own.
AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] to emphasize all of the parts [INAUDIBLE] not just your own efforts.
NANCY DITOMASO: Yes, but-- yeah. Let me respond in a slightly different way. It's not the way you asked the question, but what I think is relevant here. Some of the responses to my book, I've gotten, fortunately, a lot of media attention for the book. I've done a lot of interviews and so on.
A couple of the interviews were along the lines of, so how do we help minorities network? That was kind of-- if networks matter, so how do we help minorities network? The civil rights movement was about access to jobs and freedom, right?
And so to some extent, teaching other people to network isn't the outcome that I was looking for as much as some kinds of attention to the issues about how jobs are allocated and who gets to make decisions about how jobs are allocated so that we have some of that consistency in terms of the application of criteria and the access to jobs that provide a decent life. So yes, on the one hand, we all need to be people that others look favorably upon and would like to help. But we need to be careful when we do that in ways that are to the detriment of other people.
So on the one hand, yes, I've tried to help my kids. But I also have a moral responsibility to help other people's kids. And if there's a public policy issue, I should be supporting it, essentially, to restrict my ability to help my kids in ways that are to the disadvantage of other people's kids.
AUDIENCE: I was really glad to hear about the [INAUDIBLE] because I grew up in very similar rural poverty with six or seven kids. And our neighbors were almost the same, with almost as many kids. They didn't make it. We did.
And the only difference was that we were the [INAUDIBLE]. We were the ones with the [INAUDIBLE] we were the ones [INAUDIBLE]. And I watched my other siblings get help. And they will tell you they did it on their own. But I am more social.
So what [INAUDIBLE]--
NANCY DITOMASO: I had government programs to help me.
AUDIENCE: They did too, and they got cut away as time went on. But what seems to be missing from your analysis is that I want to use an example that's going to come out of a different industry base, well, different [INAUDIBLE]. We've got a health care issue. We've got a health care industry.
But in terms of economic value, who is the number one health care provider in your life? In terms of economic value, who is the number one health care provider in your life?
NANCY DITOMASO: Are you talking about my family?
AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE]. So yes, I assume your family [INAUDIBLE]. But the care that you do for yourself and others is between that [INAUDIBLE]. We don't tend to see our informal [INAUDIBLE]. But these informal community [INAUDIBLE] They're not networking [INAUDIBLE]. But there's something there that's really very powerful, and I think that [INAUDIBLE] stronger footing for making claims about what people could do to make a difference.
NANCY DITOMASO: Well, obviously, in this presentation, I couldn't tell you everything that I address in the book. But let me raise an issue that I don't make prominent, but I do talk about it. It's the kinds of family contextual things that sort of made it possible for some people to do well in their lives, in part comes out of the opportunity hoarding of the past generation. Right?
So it may be that I did it on my own, but the fact that I could live in a middle class suburbs with good schools and I could be in an environment where I could have lots of people who might look out for my interests is because my family was able to either get those unionized jobs, or to live in suburbs that blacks weren't able to live in. And I could get a mortgage from FHA and all these kinds of things.
So I do try to talk about that in the book. I don't highlight it because there's a lot of other issues. But so often when we think somehow that we did it through our own effort, it takes a village, as Hillary Clinton said. I think-- yes, ma'am. Or I don't know. We're sort of ignoring this part of the room.
NANCY DITOMASO: Yeah, there's a question here.
NANCY DITOMASO: Let's go here first and then come back.
NANCY DITOMASO: Only if you hold it close.
AUDIENCE: I agree [INAUDIBLE]. There's some [INAUDIBLE] but the idea that these networks, by preferring [INAUDIBLE] are not racist, I don't understand that. I mean, is [INAUDIBLE] and yeah, there's certain issues technically [INAUDIBLE] consequences [INAUDIBLE]. I mean, racism, flat out fire breathing, 1957 George Wallace racism is still alive and well, and I've seen it in staffing and promotional hiring decisions [INAUDIBLE].
It's not gone away. Some it's been covered up. Some of it, people may not perceive themselves as racist. Some do, don't care, but they know that they can't talk like that. I just don't buy that this is racial inequality without racism. I just-- I see something-- I think it's great that you've been able to work with people that are all nice and [INAUDIBLE]. I've seen [INAUDIBLE] Yeah, I can understand why you might think that's the case. But I don't think it is. And I think-- and the other aspect of [INAUDIBLE] and serious [INAUDIBLE] how did these networks get set up [INAUDIBLE]. I don't think it's that mysterious. A lot of [INAUDIBLE] themselves didn't get [INAUDIBLE] they got no credit. And by credit, I mean--
NANCY DITOMASO: Yes, I understand.
AUDIENCE: I mean, it's not a big mystery.
NANCY DITOMASO: By the way, Myrdal talked about those things, by the way.
AUDIENCE: It's not a big mystery how the [INAUDIBLE] manager [INAUDIBLE] was set up. And it's true across the board [INAUDIBLE]. So I'm not disputing a lot of things you say. The mechanism by which the racist blows are delivered might be through these people who don't feel like they are racists. But my gosh, you have tons of evidence that the blows are still being delivered.
I could see utility if you were coaching these [INAUDIBLE] and saying, we can make it better, but not immediately calling them racists and saying, oh yeah, [INAUDIBLE]. And you can have entree to the [INAUDIBLE]. But, [INAUDIBLE].
NANCY DITOMASO: OK, let me respond to that in three different ways. One is that when Myrdal wrote his book, Gunnar Myrdal, The American Dilemma, the book was published in the early 1940s. So he was doing the research in the late '30s. And it was published during the war.
He says in this book in the late '30s, when he came to the US to start this research project, that he went all around the South, 1930s, and he said, you could go around for weeks talking to people about race and never finding a person who would attribute racism to themselves. They would all attribute it to the community, spirit, et cetera, but not to them.
So to some extent, even in the 1930s in the US, pre-civil rights, we had racial inequality without racists. Let me finish. Let me finish this. So he was quite aware of the oppression, the lack of access to resources, and so on. And yet, the way people maintain their sense of the legitimacy of the system is because they aren't perceiving themselves as doing bad things to people. These are my friends. They live next door, et cetera.
Second thing I would say is that, obviously, the argument that I'm making is more complex than I have a chance to discuss. If you look at the work of Susan Fiske, who I used for my survey piece, where she talks about the stereotype content model and who we think of as competent and warm or competent and nice, she has associated with there's different kinds of emotional reactions to people, depending on where they fit in these categories. But she also talks about under normal times versus during times when people feel threatened.
So what I'm arguing is that to the extent that the existing structure of inequality allows whites to benefit from those structures, then they will not have to be racist in order to gain those benefits, and they will feel good about themselves and not think there's a problem. But to the extent that they begin to feel somehow that someone is going to take those privileges away, then it shifts. Then we go from benign neglect to one of violence.
And this talks very explicitly about how this shift is when you don't feel threatened in your privileged position versus when you do feel threatened. You react very differently. So I'm talking about the former of that, not the latter.
The third thing, and let me just say it very quickly, is that when I interviewed these people in my study, everybody got jobs through this kind of gaining advantage. But they didn't all talk about political issues the same way. Some of them, very few of them, were supportive of poverty programs and affirmative action and so on. Most of them were against it.
And I make the argument in my book, I talk about the rich white liberals versus the working class racists. The argument I make in my book is the ones that were liberal in their politics, and supportive of poverty programs, and thinking we needed to do something about opportunity and affirmative action, essentially were those people whose lives would not be affected by any of those policies. They could afford to be generous.
And they would like to see the world in harmony. And so they-- but if they lost their jobs because of affirmative action, there were lots of networks that existed for them to get another job. And they also already had their education. And they had the credentials. They could go to the market with the capabilities that made it more likely for them to do well.
Whereas the working class racists, they didn't have much of an education. And therefore, the only way to have a decent life was to get inside one of these jobs that was protected from the market, like a union job, or a government job, or something. They were the ones that felt affirmative action and civil rights policies were directly impacting their life. And they were the ones that were angry and said very explicit anti-black things.
So to some extent, how we view this depends on where we sit, where we stand. And I've been working on this, again, for 20 years. And as I've tried to talk about these issues, I inevitably have someone say, how can you say there are no racists? Of course there are racists out there.
Well, yes, there are some racists. But if you look at the way people answer surveys and the way people live most of their life most of the time, they don't actively do those things. What they mostly do is just go about their lives helping their friends. And so I think it's important to focus on that part. And understand when we do see these other groups, where that's coming from.
AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE]. But just because a person does not perceive themselves as racist or [INAUDIBLE] does not mean that they don't think that [INAUDIBLE].
NANCY DITOMASO: So there is institutional racism, and structural racism, and aversive racism, and implicit racism. Because we're all affected by the structure of inequality that exists in this society. But even with all of that, I still think that it's very important for us to see the distinction between thinking that the problem is "those racists" versus realizing that it's really about who can tap into advantages.
OK, I think there were two other quick questions. I don't know if we have time.
AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE]. I was curious about the gender differential, especially in how people report. So you're asking scientists and engineers about mentoring relationships, but aren't you more likely to identify someone as a mentor where especially in science.
NANCY DITOMASO: Yeah, that's what the reviewers said. It's really that men get mentors all the time. They just don't recognize it. Yes, but it also may be if we think about mentoring, again, women are getting advice and men are getting opportunity. Yeah.
AUDIENCE: But also you said in your interviews that people were downplaying the advantages that they received. I'm imagining that women would be more likely to downplay those advantages, which might increase the gap [INAUDIBLE].
NANCY DITOMASO: I don't know. Again, we only had the questions that we asked. So we couldn't follow up once we saw the data. There was one other quick question, I think, over there somewhere.
NANCY DITOMASO: So what we need is sponsors who provide opportunity more than mentors who provide advice. Yes.
AUDIENCE: Because my question is when [INAUDIBLE] I saw the men getting sponsors and the women getting mentors. The men were going to the golf games and doing other things after hours, where the women were pretty much target specific only into the advisor capacity with their mentors. So the networking that's outside of the office, that had a great impact on who got promoted, [INAUDIBLE] just looking at the lunch patterns, it was definitely a sponsorship versus a mentor.
NANCY DITOMASO: Yeah. So sponsors are people who are looking out for your interests and try to make sure you get opportunity. A mentor is someone who's giving you advice, telling you how it's done and how I did it and so on. And I raised the question in work that I've done whether we provide sponsorship or opportunity to the people who are like us, and advice to the people who are not. So I think--
AUDIENCE: We have another question.
AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] between [INAUDIBLE] and happy hour, I guess. [INAUDIBLE] college and engineering, a lot of the work we do [INAUDIBLE] networking. So I basically kind of help people create opportunities [INAUDIBLE]. So are we barking up the wrong tree with that?
NANCY DITOMASO: No, I think that that's not the outcome from my research here. The issue is that if you weren't doing that for your minority or under-represented students, they wouldn't be tapped into the networks that the white students are getting through their family and other connections. So you're essentially substituting or making up for what is going on already for your white students by creating additional opportunity for your minority students.
Again, to the extent that you are doing that in a way that is not just, again, giving them advice, but actually linking them to opportunity, that's a good thing. But no matter what you're doing, you need to be paying attention to who's getting these opportunities, and in what way, and who gets access. Who can go to these events? And who's represented? And how do they get chosen and so on?
And is there someone, even in the midst of all the kinds of things that schools do, there's still somebody who knows someone who can call up a friend, or family member, or an uncle, or someone, and say, you really should talk to this guy. He's terrific. And then that sometimes sidesteps all the formal procedures, because we know someone is terrific so we make sure they get in, as opposed to making sure other people stay out.
So good for you to be doing these things. We did a few interviews with blacks. Not many. And one of my students then did some more interviews with blacks. And basically found that for the most part, the middle class blacks who did well in their lives usually did through some avenue, through some government program. They didn't have it through their family background.
And so all those things that we had been doing that now we're phasing out, in fact, helped equalize things a bit compared to what had otherwise been available as a routine for people living in middle class communities.
NANCY DITOMASO: Again, pay attention to who's doing what with whom. So again, thank you so much for your attention. I really appreciate it.
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Nancy DiTomaso, professor of organization management at Rutgers Business School and author of 'The American Non-Dilemma: Racial Inequality without Racism,' talked about how racial inequality is reproduced through mechanisms of advantage and whites helping other whites, March 10, 2014.
The talk is part of the Inclusive Excellence Academy, supported by the University Diversity Council to advance Cornell's Toward New Destinations initiative.