Criminal History, Sex, and Employment: Sex Differences in Ex-Offender Hiring Stigma

Colin P. Holloway, Richard L. Wiener

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Communities across the United States integrate thousands of men and women coming out of jail or prison each year and studies suggest that over 75% of this population will reoffend within a decade of release. According to research, positive employment outcomes are linked to preventing recidivism; however, employers routinely check or inquire about criminal histories and discriminate against ex-offender applicants. The current research focused on employer stigma against applicants with a criminal history with an online sample of adults (N = 296). The analogue experiment examined hiring decisions for Black versus White applicants with or without a criminal history in order to explore the effect of race and criminal history on hiring outcomes. As expected, participants were less likely to recommend applicants with a criminal history for employment, but the sex of the respondent moderated the differences in racial bias. Male hiring decision makers did not differentiate between applicants with or without a criminal history when presented with a White applicant but did show a stigma against Black ex-offenders versus Black applicants with a clean criminal history. Female hiring decision makers showed the opposite pattern demonstrating no preference between Black applicants with or without a criminal history but preferring White applicants without a criminal record versus White ex-offenders. These findings suggest that male and female hiring managers are differently affected by the presence of a criminal history depending on the race of the applicant and these differences if replicated have interesting policy implications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAnalyses of Social Issues and Public Policy
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2020


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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