Women with hijab face job discrimination, study finds strong evidence

A woman, wearing a hijab and a protective face mask, walks at Trocadero square near the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, on May 2, 2021. Picture was taken on May 2, 2021. — Reuters/File

In a study published in European Sociological Review, researchers conducted a field experiment proving veiled Muslim women face public backlash from clients and customers when job-hunting in Netherlands and Germany.

To conduct the study, the researchers picked a set of candidates and filed two job applications for each of them. One was with a hijab, highlighting their religion through volunteering activities at a religious centre, and the other was unveiled with no affiliation to Islam.

The job postings required a direct client-customer-based service such as a hairdresser, shop assistant and sales representative.

In the Netherlands, in the applications in which no religious affiliation was made, almost 70% of jobs applied had positive feedback. But for applications with hijab-wearing photographs, the positivity rate was 35%.

Similarly, in Germany, 53% of unveiled Muslim women received positive feedback from employers, compared to around 25% of callbacks among veiled women.

“The high level of discrimination we found in the Netherlands, where the institutional context has traditionally been open to the accommodation of religious minority rights, is particularly surprising and points to the possible stigmatising effect of recent policies geared towards the cultural assimilation of immigrants,” the researchers noted.

However, the level of discrimination in Spain against hijab-wearing women was almost insignificant.

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