Sex and Race Discrimination in Personnel Decisions

Laura M. Graves and Gary N. Powell

in The Oxford Handbook of Personnel Psychology

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780199234738
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191577093 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Business and Management C

Sex and Race Discrimination in Personnel Decisions

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  • Human Resource Management
  • Organizational Theory and Behaviour


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This article focuses on the role of personnel decision-making processes within organizations in perpetuating the disadvantaged status of women and people of color. Personnel decisions, which include judgments about who to hire, promote, and develop, and what to pay them, determine whether women and people of color have access to jobs, financial rewards, and advancement opportunities. Social scientists have offered numerous theoretical explanations for sex and race discrimination. This article reviews the key explanations and discusses how they apply to organizational personnel decisions, citing relevant research findings. It then attempts to make sense of the multiplicity of theories, identifying similarities and contradictions in their arguments and the predictions that follow from them. The article also considers the role of organizational factors in the occurrence of sex and race discrimination. Finally, it concludes by offering implications for research and practice.

Keywords: personnel; jobs; financial rewards; advancement opportunities; race discrimination

Article.  11521 words. 

Subjects: Human Resource Management ; Organizational Theory and Behaviour

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