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Study: Muslim women face bias in German job market

September 20, 2016

A German study has found that female applicants who wear headscarves or have Turkish names have a harder time landing job interviews. Researchers found that women with both traits only had a callback rate of 4.2 percent.

Women with headscarves in Berlin
Image: Carsten Koall/Getty Images

A new study published on Tuesday the Germany-based Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) found that Muslim women face higher levels of discrimination when applying for jobs - even when the applications contain the same job qualifications.

For the field experiment, study author Doris Weichselbaumer sent out almost 1,500 fictional applications for office jobs in cities around Germany for one year.

One fake applicant had a typical German name, "Sandra Bauer" and featured a picture of a brunette woman. The second application used the same photo of the woman, but identified her with the Turkish-sounding name "Meryem Öztürk."

The third application used the Turkish-sounding name but included a photo of the brunette woman wearing a headscarf. IZA noted that the application photograph "did not cover the applicant's throat, thus signaling that she is not particularly strict with her religion."

The applications never mentioned religion, but received wildly different results.

"Sandra Bauer" received an interview callback rate of 18.8 percent, followed by 13.5 percent for "Mereyem Öztürk."

However, the applicant who wore the headscarf only received a callback 4.2 percent of the time.

Researchers noted that a woman with a migrant background who also wears a headscarf would have to send 4.5 times as many applications to receive the same number of callbacks as an applicant with a German-sounding name.

In Germany, it is typical for job applicants to attach a photo of themselves. The country also has a large number of Turkish migrants and people with migration background. More than one million refugees came to Germany last year, sparking backlash from anti-mass-migration parties like the Alternative for Germany (AfD).

"A heated debate is being led in the West about the apparently inferior position of women in Muslim (migrant) culture. However, little discussion takes place about how Muslim women are actually treated by the Western majority population," said Weichselbaumer.

rs/kl (AFP, dpa)

After asylum - Looking for work in Germany