MIT grad launches job-matching app to combat racial, gender bias in tech hiring

"Blendoor" goes live this week.

The app Blendoor circumvents unconscious bias by removing gender and ethnicity from the hiring process.
The app Blendoor circumvents unconscious bias by removing gender and ethnicity from the hiring process. –Blendoor Screenshot

A new mobile app called “Blendoor” hopes to make hiring in the tech world less transparent, in a way that benefits minority applicants and companies looking for more diverse employees.

Blendoor, created by MIT and Stanford grad Stephanie Lampkin, lets job seekers upload their resume but hides their names and photos from hiring managers. The aim is to circumvent unconscious bias and facilitate diversity in recruiting at tech companies.

According to Forbes, Lampkin learned to code at age 13 and was a full-stack web developer by 15. She was inspired to develop Blendoor after being rejected from a well-known tech firm in Silicon Valley that said her background wasn’t “technical” enough to be a software engineer.

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Lampkin told Forbes she wondered whether being a young African American woman had something to do with it.

Research would support Lampkin’s suspicion.

National Bureau of Economic Research study found that “job applicants with white names needed to send about 10 resumes to get one callback,” while “those with African-American names needed to send around 15 resumes to get one callback.”

The study states:

A job applicant with a name that sounds like it might belong to an African-American – say, Lakisha Washington or Jamal Jones – can find it harder to get a job. Despite laws against discrimination, affirmative action, a degree of employer enlightenment, and the desire by some businesses to enhance profits by hiring those most qualified regardless of race, African-Americans are twice as likely as whites to be unemployed and they earn nearly 25 percent less when they are employed.

Blendoor, which Lampkin hopes increases tech hiring among women, minorities, and members of the LGBT community, goes live for public beta testing on March 11 at this year’s SXSW digital festival. The app already has buy-ins from 19 tech companies including Google, Apple, and Facebook.

“I know a number of really successful, Ivy League-educated, African-American people between about 35 and 45 who refuse to use LinkedIn out of fear of discrimination,” Lampkin told Forbes.

Read the full Forbes story here.

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