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The American Non-Dilemma: New Book Explores Hidden Causes of Racial Inequalities in U.S. Job Market

For Immediate Release, April 2013 Contact: David Haproff, (212) 750-6037

With the black unemployment rate stuck at nearly 14 percent – almost double the national rate – the Russell Sage Foundation is announcing the publication of The American Non-Dilemma: Racial Inequality Without Racism, a provocative new book that offers new findings about why our country has fallen off the path to equal employment opportunity.

Author Nancy DiTomaso argues that economic racial disparities are perpetuated not by explicit racism, but by seemingly innocuous processes that institutionalize racial bias. It offers new, original findings that are critical in understanding the persistent barriers that African Americans and other communities of color face in the U.S. job market.

Drawing from hundreds of interviews with job seekers, DiTomaso finds that:

  • Whites benefit from seemingly innocuous practices like networking—leaving people of color behind. With new evidence that hiring is increasingly based on personal connections and internal company referrals, equality in the workplace is often hindered by whites’ preferential treatment of other whites when filling positions – even by those who claim to support equal opportunity.
  • White job seekers have extensive resources – social, financial, and cultural capital – from their networks of family and friends, giving them advantages they are often unaware of. Many don’t realize the invisible ways that preferential treatment is embedded in everyday social interactions that affect who gets sought-after jobs.
  • Attitudes against affirmative action are driven by the misconception that African Americans don’t face barriers in the job market and by a misunderstanding of how affirmative action works.
  • Some whites see gains for immigrants coming at the cost of their own jobs – a key factor in the current debate over immigration reform.
    Nancy DiTomaso is Professor and Vice Dean for Faculty and Research at Rutgers Business School. Her work focuses on employment and diversity. In addition to research and teaching, she has conducted workshops, seminars and provided other professional services for major corporations and public agencies.

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    The Russell Sage Foundation is the principal American foundation devoted exclusively to research in the social sciences. Located in New York City, it is a research center, a funding source for studies by scholars at other academic and research institutions, and an active member of the nation’s social science community. The Foundation also publishes, under its own imprint, the books that derive from the work of its grantees and Visiting Scholars. It is best known for its support for research programs on low-wage work, social inequality, immigration, and behavioral economics.

    For further information on this or any other Russell Sage Foundation publications, or to schedule an interview with the authors, please contact David Haproff at 212-750-6037.

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