Check all that apply…


While reading Jordi’s post describing this week’s prompt, my mind immediately shifted to application forms. Job application forms and college application forms, in particular. As I am in the midst of applying to jobs currently, I find myself being forced to identify myself constantly. Am I non-Hispanic or Hispanic? Am I accomplished or not accomplished? Am I interesting or am I boring? Am I a 3.5-4.0 student or a 3.0-3.49 student? Through all these applications, I am forced to categorize the elements that make me, me.

I feel that in today’s age, employers seek out a candidate’s identity more than they did 50 years ago. Although today’s age is always about connections and networking, I think that 50 years ago (correct me if I’m wrong), connections got people places because of their status in life (the rich always got the jobs because Daddy could always find little Suzy a job). With a more qualified and competitive work force, employers need a way to sort the candidates quickly and easily. Therefore, we, as applicants, are squeezed into labels we might not fully identify with.

I find this frustrating because not everyone fits into a cookie cutter mold. Having “identity” hold more importance than class is a big stepping stone in the right direction for our society because we have moved beyond money as being the only important thing in life. However, requiring that everyone have an identity isn’t always a good thing. Just because someone identifies as “gay” doesn’t mean they necessarily “act gay” or “talks gay” or “dresses gay.” Unfortunately, I don’t think that identity politics is leaving anytime soon. Unless there is another way to categorize people, or unless our problems are solved soon, identity politics are here to stay.


5 responses to “Check all that apply…

  1. I agree with your thoughts, I feel that being unique has become a unique selling point to universities and employees this day in age. So much so that a university would be willing to accept a student of a diverse background than a more qualified candidate. It would be interesting to see if the same goes for companies hiring students.

    • I do not think a university would be willing to accept a student of a diverse background than a more qualified candidate. Let’s take for example Bucknell; they will not accept you if they do not feel that you can handle the work load regardless of their race or background. Correct me if I’m wrong, but you make it sound like a university would try and fill a quota. If that’s the case, then Bucknell and other universities are doing a terrible job at that. The majority of minority students that go here are here through other programs of sports. I hope you understand where I’m coming from.

      • I completely agree with your point, I was discussing it more as a generalization than pointing fingers at any specific university. It would be reassuring to know that choosing candidates based on background then qualification is not in fact the case.

  2. I agree with your point that universities and employers are now faced with a more qualified and educated work force so they need to label people in order to categorize them. They both do have quotas to fill and often times I think they will take the person with a more diverse background than the better candidate in order to hit these numbers. Last spring as I was getting advice from a family friend when I was trying to find a summer internship, he told me that in the past he could sent in my resume and basically guaranteed that I would have a spot based on my credentials and his recommendation. He said that with the new diversity quotas that I would actually be at a disadvantage because I was white. I thought this was a very interesting comment but at the same time I think it also has to do with the fact that the workplace in general is becoming more competitive and connections are not as helpful nowadays because companies realize it is not fair to other candidates.

  3. GREAT research question as to whether wealth (and you must mean White wealth if you are talking about 50 years ago) added more of an advantage to one’s life chances than it does now. I don’t know the answer off the top of my head. However, one little tidbit is that I have been told Ivy-league schools added interviews and legacy consideration around the time (about 50 years ago) when Jews started to reach such collective levels of educational attainment that they were competitive at those schools.

    Before that, there was need to ask about family connections because it was sort of assumed.

    The “diversity” interest of firms has shifted to one of pragmatic economics from its original goals of actively challenging deeply ingrained disadvantages that are known and measurable. That may be fine, but I wish we could be a little more honest about it.

    Diversity is fine on its own terms. At the same time, I think there is a justice issue that can be forcefully and actively engaged.

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