To read this content please select one of the options below:

Hiring discrimination against transgender job applicants – considerations when designing a study

Ciarán McFadden (The Business School, Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh, UK)

International Journal of Manpower

ISSN: 0143-7720

Article publication date: 21 April 2020

Issue publication date: 17 August 2020




This paper discusses the factors to consider when designing studies to measure hiring discrimination against transgender job applicants.


The paper builds on academic literature related to hiring discrimination and transgender employment to build a detailed discussion of the numerous factors and issues inherent in hiring discrimination against transgender job applicants. By isolating and describing a number of relevant considerations, the paper aims to act as a guide for future studies to build upon.


Three types of hiring discrimination studies are discussed: correspondence tests, in-person experiments and student cohort experiments. Three main categories of factors relevant to an experiment’s design are then discussed: the legal context, industry/role factors and transgender population-specific factors. A flow-chart detailing the research design decision-making process is provided.

Research limitations/implications

The discussion within this paper will act as a reference and a guide for researchers seeking to address the dearth of empirical studies in the literature. The list is not exhaustive; while a number of factors relevant to transgender-specific studies are identified, there may be more that could affect an experiment's design.


Hiring discrimination against transgender people has been recorded in many surveys, but there is little empirical measurement of this discrimination. To the author's knowledge, this paper is the first to examine the experimental design decisions related to transgender hiring discrimination. In doing so, it provides contributions for two primary audiences: those researching transgender employment issues but who have never conducted a study measuring hiring discrimination; and those who have previously conducted studies on hiring discrimination, but have not done so with reference to transgender job applicants.



Early work inspiring this paper was made possible by a Fulbright-National University of Ireland Award. The author would like to thank Dr. Marian Crowley Henry and the staff at the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy, UCLA, for their advice and support in this earlier work. The author would also like to thank Dr. Nick Drydakis and the anonymous reviewers for their advice on this paper.


McFadden, C. (2020), "Hiring discrimination against transgender job applicants – considerations when designing a study", International Journal of Manpower, Vol. 41 No. 6, pp. 731-752.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles