AI brings brand new experience in recruiting, while data poses challenges

Yixuan Xie
Medill Reports

Hiring the right people is crucial to an organization’s success and companies are turning to artificial intelligence to optimize that process.

AI, which uses computer science to make machines imitate human intelligence and behavior, is revolutionizing numerous industries. It is the technology behind Amazon Inc.’s cashier-less stores, Tesla Inc.’s self-driving vehicles and Apple Inc.’s Siri voice assistant. It is also lending a helping hand to the recruiting industry to find the right people for the right jobs.

The U.S. Department of Labor reported an unemployment rate of 3.7 percent for July, which is near a five-decade low. Despite being good news for job seekers, the rate has some employers desperate to find talented workers when so many people are already employed.

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AI for candidate screening: eliminating or reinforcing bias

Yixuan Xie
Medill Reports

While job applicants hope they are evaluated based upon their capabilities and skills when applying for a job, hiring decisions can be full of biases, ranging from dismissing a candidate simply for a name to focusing recruiting efforts on elite schools.

With multiple studies revealing discrimination in recruitment, artificial intelligence is being embraced as a way to level the playing filed. AI removes human interaction from some parts of resume and video screening, helping to address conscious and unconscious hiring bias. But despite creating a more consistent and fairer way to evaluate applicants, it has the potential to be problematic.

Resume Screening

A 2016 study by Cornell University showed that resumes reveal candidates’ personal identifiable information and may introduce bias into the screening process, especially at the initial stages. It found that candidates with Caucasian-sounding names had 50 percent higher call back rates for interviews than those candidates with African American-sounding names. Research by PayScale, a salary trend analysis website, revealed this year that women face barriers to being hired at tech companies, with females being just 29 percent of the industry.

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Veggie co-op in North Lawndale brings fresh produce to residents with dietary restrictions

By Trina Ryan
Medill Reports

On a breezy Saturday afternoon, Reynaldo Engram arrives at work early to sift through boxes of carrots. He performs this task with painstaking precision, holding each carrot up to the light, rubbing his thumb slowly over its dirt-speckled orange skin. As hub assistant at Farm on Ogden, a spacious agriculture facility on the West Side of Chicago, Engram’s responsibilities include anything from watering plants to sweeping floors to cleaning bathrooms. “I do what I’m asked,” says the 59-year-old, smiling. But today he has an important job, one he takes seriously: inspecting produce for defects. He wants to make sure the most attractive-looking vegetables go out to his neighbors of North Lawndale.

“I want everyone to feel as strong and healthy as I do,” he says. “Not too many folks around here can say they feel that way at my age.”

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Athletes with disabilities in it to win it

By Neel Madhavan
Medill Reports

Rohan Murphy lost his legs at birth and grew up thinking that he wouldn’t ever be able to play sports.

However, in eighth grade his physical education teacher introduced him to wrestling and he started to become fully involved with the team in ninth grade. He later went on to wrestle at the collegiate level at Penn State.

Murphy says going through life with his disability is much different than competing in wrestling with his disability.

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Young female soccer journalists chase dreams through Football for Friendship program

By Drake Hills
Medill Reports

MADRID — More than 14 million people in the United States watched this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup final in France, beating the total for the men’s World Cup final one year ago and the previous Women’s World Cup title match in 2015. As the growth of country participants and its viewers continue, so may the total number of women capturing its moments.

USA Today, ESPN, The Athletic and the Los Angeles Times were just some of the media outlets represented by women covering the World Cup. Nancy Armour, Alyssa Roenigk, Meg Linehan and Helene Elliott, respectively, proved that women are emerging in sports press boxes around the globe.

Just a week before the tournament began, a series of youth soccer events were held at the Dehesa de Navalcarbón Sports Complex, found in the western limits of the Spanish capital. Nearly 100 12-year-olds representing 57 nations sported their ocean blue, green and white Football for Friendship jerseys, blending in as one soccer contingent. On the sideline closest to the stands were youth journalist participants. Since the Football for Friendship’s birth in 2013, a growing number of those aspiring storytellers have been girls. Continue reading

Working to end the stigma: Athletes and mental health

By Kate Constable
Medill Reports

As sports fans, we often put athletes on pedestals, dehumanizing them in a sense. We think of them as strong, focused and mentally tough, which they are. But this mindset is also part of the reason that mental health issues are too often ignored in sports.

On this episode of Medill Newsmakers, we focus on the role of mental health in sports and how athletes are working to end the stigma surrounding it.

Photo at top: Will Heininger speaking at the NCAA headquarters (Will Heininger/Michigan Medicine)


Wushu master brings martial arts and Chinese culture to Buenos Aires

By Carolyn Chen & Tianqi Gou
Medill Reports


Chen Min, a former national Wushu champion in China, opened a martial arts school in Buenos Aires 11 years ago.

In this video story, we see the ways Chen Min tries to create a special chemistry between Chinese and Argentine cultures — at her school and in her home.

Carola Fernández Moores contributed reporting from Buenos Aires. 

Photo at top: Children learn Wushu at Chen Min’s Wushu school in Buenos Aires. (Carolyn Chen & Tianqi Gou/MEDILL)

In the ‘City of Neighborhoods,’ a summer of fun

By Ebony JJ Curry
Medill Reports

Chicago is the third largest city in America and also one of the most visited. Last year, nearly 58 million people visited the Windy City, according to a projection by Choose Chicago, the city’s tourism bureau. Those numbers peak in the summer months.

And for locals who endure the city’s notorious winters, summer is cause for celebration. Every week is filled with boatloads of activities, events and lots of food. Chicago has often been called a “City of Neighborhoods,” and many of those communities have an annual festival in the summer months — from Uptown’s Windy City Ribfest to Hyde Park’s Bantu Fest to Pilsen’s Fiesta del Sol.  Here’s a video guide to some of what summer has to offer in Chicago.

Photo at top: Several companies offer 90-minute architecture tours on the Chicago River, with hourly departures in the summer months. Most tours depart from the Chicago Riverwalk. (Ebony JJ Curry/MEDILL)

Despite launch delay, NU undergrads plow ahead with redesign for NASA freeze-casting experiments

By Lauren Robinson
Medill Reports

Young scientists are racing to deliver by October a satellite payload of instruments to test freeze-casting — technology that could free space explorers from expensive, time-consuming deliveries of supplies from Earth.

The team of Northwestern University undergraduates building the innards for a small satellite called a “CubeSat” missed the launch window last year but are getting ready for another try.

“The sample container failed,” explains Kristen Scotti, a graduate student and mentor for SpaceICE, the initiative creating the CubeSat instrumentation to test freeze-casting for eventual manufacturing needs in space. Essentially, the glass containers for three sample suspensions were cracking, and anything less than airtight would jeopardize the freeze-casting process, dependent upon controlled temperatures and accurate readings.
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The story behind the ‘Bird City Saint’ and why the artist hopes it empowers others

By Jessy Zhou
Medill Reports

It’s common sight on murals in Chicago — a bird head on a human body, looking skyward, often accompanied by a quote. The image, called the Bird City Saint,  is a signature of Joseph “Sentrock” Perez, a muralist and sculptor who moved to Chicago from Arizona to pursue a career as a full-time artist.

Sentrock’s “birdman” appears on several murals in Pilsen, where he wants his work to empower teens in the neighborhood by lifting their spirits. “I feel like my work  gives hope,” said Sentrock in the video story below. “A lot of the characters, they’re like striving for more, they’re looking up to the sky, and they really need something to feel uplifting.”

Photo at top: Sentrock standing in front of a mural with a Bird City Saint image in Pilsen. (Courtesy Sentrock Studio)