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Job Bias Targets US Veiled Muslims

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - Muslim women donning hijab are more likely to face discrimination in the job market in the United States, with employers favoring employees with no religious outfit, a new study has found.

"We conducted a field experiment to investigate the extent to which individuals wearing religious attire encounter discrimination during the hiring process," Sonia Ghumman, assistant professor from the University of Hawaii at Manoa Shidler College of Business, told Phys.org.

The study asked a group of students to wear the hijab (headscarf) and try to apply for different jobs in the US.

"We asked students (ages 19-22) from several ethnic backgrounds to seek employment with and without the hijab at retail stores and restaurants in two shopping malls," Ghumman said.

"The malls were located primarily in middle-income cities in the Midwest. The job seekers were paired with an observer and yielded a total of 112 trials."

But the results showed that the hijab-clad girls faced discrimination at different levels in different job offers.

The responses were divided into formal discrimination, marked by explicit negative behaviors such as outright refusal, interpersonal discrimination and a more subtle expression of discrimination both in nonverbal and verbal behaviors.

The findings also revealed that wearing a hijab had a negative impact in all aspects of the hiring process compared to Muslim women who did not wear it.

The study tracked several areas of the hiring process, including the permission to complete job applications, job availability, job callbacks, interaction time, and perceived negativity and lack of interest by the employer.

The study concluded that hijab-clade women were less likely to receive job offers than Muslim women who did not wear the headscarf.

It also showed that the veiled women were more likely to be hired by organizations with high employee diversity.

The study is not the first by Ghumman on the discrimination against veiled Muslims in the US.

An earlier study by Ghumman and co-researcher Ann Marie Ryan of Michigan State University was conducted under the title "Not welcome here: Discrimination towards women who wear Muslim headscarf".

According to Ghumman, Muslim women who don headscarf remain an understudied group in the US when it comes to workplace discrimination.

Though there are no official estimates, the US is home to an estimated Muslim minority of six to eight million.

An earlier Gallup poll found that the majority of Americans Muslims are loyal to their country and optimistic about their future in the United States.

Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations.