Statistical Discrimination and Motherhood: Using Media to Teach Economics
After the story is played, students are asked whether this is an example of statistical discrimination. The issue of whether statistical discrimination should be allowed in some situations and what role the government should play in reducing statistical discrimination can also be discussed.
- Provide students with a better understanding of the concept of statistical discrimination
- Give students practice in Hansen proficiency #5 (Applying existing economic knowledge)
- Demonstrate the relevance of economic theory to a policy problem
- Help to sustain student attentiveness by inserting the news story into a class presentation
Context for Use
Description and Teaching Materials
After describing the concepts of statistical discrimination the instructor will direct his or her internet browser to the story "Pennsylvania Moms Fight Hiring Bias" on the National Public Radio web site. Playing the story will take approximately 4 minutes.
After listening to the story, students are asked to discuss the questions listed in the assessment section. If a more formal assessment is desired, students can be asked to hand in written answers. The discussion will take about 5 minutes.
Teaching Notes and Tips
Check your browser to make sure that it will play the story prior to class. One occasional problem is that the browser will require that the multimedia player for the browser be updated prior to playing the story (this is more likely to happen if the multimedia player hasn't been used for a while, such as at the start of a semester). You don't want to waste class time on this, so make sure everything works before class starts.
Students should always have to answer questions after the news story is played (either informally in a class discussion or in some kind of written assignment) so there is an incentive to pay attention.
Initially it may feel awkward to play a news story because there isn't anything for you to do while the story is played. Find a corner of the classroom and relax; you don't always have to be the center of attention.
- If a firm chooses not to hire women with children, is it a form of statistical discrimination?
- Do you think firms will have a more productive workforce if they tend to avoid hiring women who are mothers?
- Should firms have the option of choosing not to hire women with children?
- Should a firm have the option of choosing not to hire students from a high school with a poor reputation for academic performance? Does this differ from the case of not hiring women with children?
- Do you think there should be a government policy to discourage discrimination against women with children?