Men with foreign names face job discrimination in Sweden: study

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Men with foreign names face job discrimination in Sweden: study
In Sweden, women with foreign-sounding names face less discrimination than the men. Photo: Melker Dahlstrand/

Men with foreign-sounding names face significantly worse discrimination when applying for jobs in Sweden than their female counterparts, according to a new study from Stockholm University.


The study analysed the response rates to 5,641 job applications sent out by researchers for various studies between 2014 and 2020.

It found that men with foreign-sounding names were only called back after 27 percent of applications, while women with foreign-sounding names were called back after 32 percent of applications.

“What we saw was that recruiters favoured female applicants with foreign-sounding names ahead of male applicants with foreign-sounding names, and that this happened above all in professions which require a higher level of education,” said Anni Erlandsson, the post-doctoral researcher at the university who carried out the study. 

Applications purporting to be from men and women with Swedish-sounding names, in comparison, had a response rate of 44.3 percent and 43.7 percent respectively. This means men with foreign-sounding names could face a 17 percentage point disadvantage from the moment they send in their CVs.

"One of my main findings is that we do not find any evidence of gender discrimination in Sweden, and we find no discrimination among parents, between mothers or fathers," Erlandsson told The Local. "This suggests that the ideas about gender inequality in the labour market might not be driven by gender discrimination, at least not at this stage of the recruitment process.

"But at the same time, ethnic discrimination [during recruitment] does seem to be one of the sources of ethnic inequality in the labour market."


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