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Affirmative Action with Multidimensional Identities

Carvalho, Jean-Paul; Pradelski, Bary; Williams, Cole


Jean-Paul Carvalho

Bary Pradelski


Studying the design of affirmative action policies when identities are multidimensional, we provide a formal demonstration of the importance of intersectionality. Prevailing affirmative action policies are based only on one identity dimension (e.g., race, gender, socioeconomic class). We find that any such nonintersectional policy can almost never achieve a representative outcome. In fact, nonintersectional policies often increase the underrepresentation of underrepresented groups in a manner undetected by standard measures. Examples based on race and gender reveal significant hidden inequality arising from nonintersectional policies. We show how to construct intersectional policies that achieve proportional representation.


Carvalho, J.-P., Pradelski, B., & Williams, C. (in press). Affirmative Action with Multidimensional Identities. Management Science,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 5, 2024
Deposit Date Jul 8, 2024
Journal Management Science
Print ISSN 0025-1909
Electronic ISSN 1526-5501
Publisher Institute for Operations Research and Management Sciences
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords Affirmative action; education; inequality; underrepresentation; identity; intersectionality
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This file is under embargo due to copyright reasons.

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