[IPAC-List] Ricci v DeStefano

Mark Hammer Mark.Hammer at psc-cfp.gc.ca
Thu Jul 2 12:02:33 EDT 2009

Reading the article got me to thinking. In some respects, the New Haven
results are like one sample drawn from an overall population of people
interested in firefighter positions, without replacement. Presumably,
one ought to treat New Haven as if it was one small report that formed
part of a larger meta-analysis.

Of course, many of the participants don't see it that way. For a
variety of reasons (which, for some individuals might include political
reasons) they view the outcome as if it were the entire population.
That would seem to be part of what leads some folks to place so much
emphasis on THOSE exam results as some sort of indisputable barometer of
the municipality's approach to diversity. I.E., if 20% were successful
in that city, how come only 10% or 0% were successful here? (or
conversely, other places only hit 10% but we've managed 15%, so we're
more forward thinking).

Equally critical, we and others too often make the mistaken assumption
that every sample drawn from the various racial/ethnic/gender
sub-populations is equivalently distributed across the ability spectrum
in every case, such that if much lower success in meeting diversity
objectives is encountered in any particular instance, it is taken to
imply that there is something amiss.

Now, we know that under-represented groups face significant challenges
in terms of employment. I see that Labour Statistics released today
indicate the US off-farm unemployment rate at 9.5% overall (welcome to
Canada! we've had 9.5% for ages), but 14.7% for African-Americans.
When people have differentially limited choices in employment, that can
impact on the equivalence of sampling across the ability spectrum for
different groups. In other words, if group B has fewer employment
alternatives than group A, don't be surprised if applications from group
B is skewed a little more towards the lower end of the spectrum, simply
because folks from that end in that group are available to BE
applicants. Obviously, this sort of reasoning applies far more to entry
and lower-level jobs than to higher-level ones.

So, we should expect that success rates for under-represented groups
should not always be the same, from municipality to municipality, even
if we use the identical selection tools and methods. Naturally, it is
understandable that in the absence of some centralized means for
regularly gathering data across municipalities and presenting it to
employers and stakeholders, it becomes hard to convey to the public the
idea that each municipality is but a data point in a larger exercise.

Mark Hammer

>>> <Gene4 at aol.com> 2009/07/02 3:18 am >>>

Another excellent article:


Gene Carmean
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