Discrimination based on origin is in full swing (Study)

Discrimination is in full swing within French universities, according to one “ testing carried out by a research team from the new National Observatory of Discrimination and Equality in Higher Education (Ondes).

This testing is carried out by France Universities and Gustave Eiffel University, with the support of the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research, the Defender of Rights and the Permanent Commission of Equality and Diversity Project Managers. The details.

A year after the first publication, the Ondes is back with a second part which deals with discrimination in access to master’s level training. For this 2nd edition, the Ondes specifies that the study analyzes the effect of two criteria of discrimination, namely gender and origin.

So, the study, carried out by a team of researchers from the TEPP federation of the CNRS and its research group, GEODE and unveiled on March 9, underlines that the data comes from a test which is based on simple requests for information sent by four applications fictitious, Thomas Bernard, Mohamed Messaoudi, Rachida Saïdi and Valérie Leroy. Two students and two students whose names and first names evoke a French origin or a North African origin.

In February 2022, 6,366 information request emails were sent to the managers of 2,122 masters, in 84 different universities. The master’s courses that have been tested correspond to all disciplines, in all fields, and in establishments of all sizes, located throughout France. Subsequently, the responses are coded: They are very generally either positive (the person in charge refers to the address of the application site), or no response. There is practically no negative answer“, explains the study.

The main results of the study reveal that the difference in success rates between a candidate whose last name and first name evoke a French origin and an equivalent candidate whose last name and first name suggest a North African origin, is d a comparable order of magnitude in the two test waves at 7.7 points in 2022 against 8.6 points a year earlier, i.e. relative differences of 11.2% and 12.3% in the chances of obtaining a response to a simple request for information.

The study thus considers that the permanence of these high differences indicates that the results obtained are not of a one-off or short-term nature, noting that they are rather of a structural nature. Moreover, they turn out to be independent of the gender of the candidates (students of North African origin are just as penalized by their origin as students of North African origin), underlines the same study.

It also confirms the elements of interpretation of these discriminations according to origin
people applying. It is thus argued that the streams that discriminate against candidates from North Africa are both the most selective and the most attractive.

These are the ones that offer the best opportunities for the people they welcome. The candidates and candidates who have been discriminated against will have to redouble their efforts to gain access to these training courses and, for a given level of effort, they will have access to training offering less opportunities professionals. Thus the very return on their educational investment is diminished by the fact of discrimination“, notes the study.

With regard to discrimination on the basis of gender, the study finds practically no statistically significant difference in treatment between male and female students, noting that the inequalities in the distribution of students according to their gender within the different masters, particularly marked in higher education, cannot therefore be explained by the selection behavior of those responsible for training.

The observation is also verified regardless of the origin of the people who apply. We
observes no difference in success rates between male and female students, neither for people presumed to be of French origin, nor for those presumed to be of North African origin“, you underline.

That said, the authors of the study clarify that this conclusion does not mean that gender equality issues do not exist in the field of higher education, noting that it only indicates that it does not seem that those responsible for training play a driving role in the production of these inequalities, at least in access to training.

On the other hand, the study underlines that those in charge of training play neither an amplifying role nor an attenuating role in the processes of gender segregation which affects higher education.

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