Not in My Schoolyard: Disability Discrimination in Educational Access (Co-Author: András Tilcsik) | CIRHR Research Seminar with Lauren Rivera

When and Where

Wednesday, March 22, 2023 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm


Lauren Rivera, Professor, Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management


Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 892 0721 0756
Passcode: 723963

People with disabilities constitute the largest minority group in the United States, and disability discrimination is prohibited under federal law. Nevertheless, disability has received limited attention in the sociology of discrimination. We examine disability discrimination in an important gatekeeping interaction: access to public education. In an audit study of more than 20,000 public schools, we sent emails to principals from fictitious prospective parents asking for a school tour, varying the child’s disability status and gender and the parent’s race. Principals were significantly less likely to respond when the child had a disability, especially when the email came from a Black (rather than White) parent. A survey experiment with 578 principals revealed possible mechanisms. Principals viewed students with disabilities as more likely to impose a significant burden on schools, but Black students with disabilities faced an additional disadvantage due to stereotypes of their parents, who were perceived to be less valuable future members of the school community in terms of fundraising, volunteering, and other forms of engagement to support the school. Our results highlight that discrimination against people with disabilities begins long before the labor market and illuminate how the intersection between disability and race shapes inequalities in educational access.

Please take note that this session has a different start and end time than usual.

Lauren Rivera is Professor of Management & Organizations at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Dr. Rivera is an award-winning scholar and teacher. Her research unpacks how the way people define and evaluate merit in employment and education can reproduce or challenge existing social inequalities by social class, gender, race, and disability status. Her best-selling book Pedigree: How Elite Students Get Elite Jobs (Princeton University Press) investigates hiring decisions for elite professional service firms. Dr. Rivera’s research has been featured in the Atlantic, Economist, Financial Times, Fortune, Harvard Business Review, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and NPR. She was named one of the world’s top business school professors by Poets & Quants and a rising management star by Thinkers50. She received her B.A. in sociology and psychology from Yale University and her Ph.D. in sociology from Harvard University. Prior to entering academia, she worked at and Leo Burnett Hispanic (Lapiz), and was a Consultant at Monitor Group.