Why I’m using blind auditions to recruit journalists for VentureBeat

Orchestras in the U.S. used to be 95% to 100% male.

But after instituting blind auditions, with the applicants performing their music behind a screen so they can only be heard, not seen, that ratio changed dramatically.

According to one study, the number of women in top orchestras rose from less than 5% to 25% after those orchestras implemented blind auditions starting in the 1970s and 1980s. One quarter to one-half of that change, the study found, is attributable to the blind auditions, which force auditors to focus on what they’re actually hearing, not what they see.

Recently, people have started suggesting that Silicon Valley needs to make a similar change. Startup guru Eric Ries made a similar experiment by removing names, gender, and ethnicity from resumes.

So I thought we’d try an experiment: Conduct blind auditions for job openings at VentureBeat.

We have several openings for ambitious, motivated tech journalists. (Plus we’re looking for a copy editor.)

If you want to apply, fill out our online applicationIt might feel a bit impersonal but this gives us the ability to review all applicants based on the quality of their content — not their name, gender, race/ethnicity, or how well-designed their portfolio site is.

We’ll take all the applications, reformat them from an unreadable Google Spreadsheet into a clean-looking Google Doc (using this handy script), remove the names, and evaluate them that way.

For URLs of published clips, we’ll use Instapaper to reformat the articles into a neutral, readable design and paste them into Google docs, minus their bylines and publication names.

Will this make a difference? I don’t know. Ultimately my goal is to make hiring decisions based on excellence and ability. Anything that lets us focus on the quality of an applicant’s writing and reporting — not his or her background, name, or face — seems like a good start.

Why I’m using blind auditions to recruit journalists for VentureBeat