PhD Position in Algorithm Bias in Online Employer Communication

University of Amsterdam Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences


PhD in Communication Science ‘Algorithm Bias in Online Employer Communication’

Publication date 14 April 2020

Closing date 13 May 2020

Level of education Master's degree

Hours 38 hours per week

Salary indication €2,325 to €2,972 gross per month

Vacancy number 20-227

Are you exceptionally interested in communication science and the Digital Society. Is it your ambition to become a top-tier researcher?

The Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR) is the research institute for the Communication Science department at the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences. ASCoR, together with College and Graduate School of Communication at the University of Amsterdam, has launched the ‘Digital Society Initiative’, which aims to foster research and teaching into digitalization and its societal implications. Part of this initiative is the start of four exciting PhD projects that focus on themes related to the Digital Society. Topics include virtual assistants, digital trace data and algorithms.

What will you be doing?

The PhD project Automating equity? Investigating the role of algorithm bias in online employer communication aims to study -from a framing perspective- the role of inequity in the recruitment and hiring process of modern organizations, by using a multi-method approach. The research includes three sub-projects in which you will address the following research questions:

  • how are job advertisements from different occupational domains framed in terms of gender and age-related stereotypes, and with what consequences for application rates and ad delivery to different social groups? (automated content analysis);
  • what frames do recruitment and HR professionals use to make sense of algorithm-based recruitment and selection tools? (qualitative interview study);
  • what are the effects of algorithm-based recommendations on managers’ hiring decisions? (experiment).

What do we require of you?

You have:

  • a (Research) Master’s degree (or close to obtaining one) in Communication Science, or a closely related field;
  • a keen interest in the topic of the project;
  • knowledge about and experience with quantitative research methods and (willingness to gain) experience with qualitative research;
  • a demonstrated interest in computational social science, especially on digital methods of data collection; experience with this methods is a plus;
  • knowledge of Python and/or R or the willingness to learn these languages.


  • excel academically, as shown in the grade transcripts and curriculum vitae;
  • enjoy working in teams, and appreciate team collegiality and cooperation;
  • are a good communicator and an excellent organizer;
  • are proactive, reliable and independent;
  • are fluent in written and spoken English.

Our offer

The position concerns a temporary employment contract of 38 hours a week for a maximum term of 48 months. The initial contract is for one year. Following a positive assessment and barring altered circumstances, this term will be extended by a maximum of 48 months, which should result in the conferral of a doctorate. We will put together a curriculum which will also include the opportunity to attend training courses and both national and international events. You will spend 25% of your four-year term contract on teaching activities related to the Digital Society track in the bachelor Communication Science that is currently developed. The intended start date of the project is 1 September 2020.
Your salary will be €2,325 gross per month in the first year and will increase to €2,972 in the final year, based on full-time employment and in keeping with the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities.

What else do we offer?

A challenging work environment with a variety of duties and ample scope for individual initiative and development within an inspiring organisation. The social and behavioural sciences play a leading role in addressing the major societal challenges faced by the world, the Netherlands and Amsterdam, now and in the future.

To work at the University of Amsterdam is to work in a discerning, independent, creative, innovative and international climate characterised by an open atmosphere and a genuine engagement with the city of Amsterdam and society.

About the Faculty

The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG) is the largest educational and research institution in the social sciences in the Netherlands. The Faculty serves 7,500 students in numerous Bachelor and Master programmes in Political Science, Sociology, Anthropology, Communication Science, Psychology, Social Geography, Planning and International Development Studies, and Educational Sciences. The academic staff is employed in education as well as research. There are over 1,100 employees at the Faculty, which resides in a number of buildings in the centre of Amsterdam.


Do you have any questions or would you like to have more detailed descriptions of the project? Please contact:

  • Prof. Martine van Selm

Would you like to learn more about working at the University of Amsterdam? Visit our website.

Job application

The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritise diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We value a spirit of enquiry and perseverance, provide the space to keep asking questions, and promote a culture of curiosity and creativity.

Does this profile sound like you?

If so, we are eager to receive your CV and covering letter.

You may apply online by clicking on the following link.

The deadline for applications is 13 May. #LI-DNP


In your application, please refer to


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