CV NEWS FEED // A new study found that college admissions officers give preferential treatment to applicants who list “preferred pronouns” in their communications with schools.
Economists I. Maupin of West Virginia University and Bryan C. McCannon of Illinois Wesleyan University conducted the study.
Writing for The Daily Signal, The Heritage Foundation’s GianCarlo Canaparo reported that Maupin and McCannon “sent emails to college admissions counselors at 500 randomly selected colleges and universities in the United States.”
Canaparo noted that “some of the emails included pronouns in the signature line—‘he/him,’ ‘she/her,’ or ‘xe/xem.’” Meanwhile, other emails – the control group – included no pronouns.
Emails with pronouns “received responses 4% more often” than those without, he added.
However, an increased response rate was not the only benefit apparently afforded to emails with pronouns.
“Responses to pronoun users were ‘more positive’ and ‘friendlier,’ including ‘heightened use of exclamation marks and emojis,’” Canaparo wrote. “Admissions officers used exclamation marks 10.5% more often with pronoun users and used emojis 141.7% more often with pronoun users.”
Emails without pronouns in the signature line, on the other hand, mainly received “strictly factual replies.”
For example, the researchers sent the same email to three college admissions officers: two with pronouns and one without.
The responses to the two emails with pronouns both included overtly polite language. One thanked the fictitious “applicant” for the email, and the other closed with the phrase “warm regards.” Both asked if the “applicant” had moved.
However, the response to the one email without pronouns conveyed a straightforward, neutral tone. It simply answered the “applicant’s” question and did not ask the applicant if he or she had moved.
The researchers indicated that, per the results of the study, the “type of pronouns” made a difference as well. For example, emails that included standard male or female pronouns received practically identical responses to emails that included the “neo-pronouns” of “xe/xem.”
In other words, the counselors seemed only to care that an applicant used a pronoun at all. So-called “non-binary” applicants did not appear to receive superior treatment.
The only difference in treatment was instead between “pronoun-users” and “non-pronoun-users.”
“This suggests a preference for students that are more progressive in their thinking,” the researchers concluded.
If you follow this logic one step further, the end result is that pronoun users will have an easier time getting through the application process and will tend to feel more welcome at a school than non-users will.
It may be a small effect in the grand scheme of things, but it’s only one small effect among thousands of similar effects. And just as thousands of raindrops will fill a bucket, thousands of little discriminations will fill a university with the preferred sort of student.