Useful new study

A new study exploring gender bias in science faculty.

Nobody who is familiar with the literature on this will be surprised, but it’s good to accumulate new evidence and also to keep the issue in the public eye: academic scientists are, on average, biased against women. I know it’s fun to change the subject and talk about bell curves and intrinsic ability, but hopefully we can all agree that people with the same ability should be treated equally. And they are not.

That’s the conclusion of a new study in PNAS by Corinne Moss-Racusin and collaborators at Yale.  (Hat tip Dan Vergano.) To test scientist’s reactions to men and women with precisely equal qualifications, the researchers did a randomized double-blind study in which academic scientists were given application materials from a student applying for a lab manager position. The substance of the applications were all identical, but sometimes a male name was attached, and sometimes a female name.

Unsurprisingly, male applicants were rated as more competent and more hireable. What I thought was interesting is that the faculty evaluators also said that they would be more willing to mentor the male appliants.  (More here.)

2 thoughts on “Useful new study

  1. Don’t miss the difference in salary offered, either: male-identified candidates were potentially offered an average of just over $30,000 as a starting salary whereas female-identified candidates were offered just over $26,000. This tracks problems with starting salary in the humanities and other aspects of academia, as well, which are nowadays often chalked up to women bargaining less than men before accepting an offer. And yet here, bargaining was simply not an issue; the offer was just lower from the get-go. Each candidate, had they been able to bargain up, would have gotten more out of asking for the same percentage. To get the same starting salary as the male candidate is offered, the female would have to be willing to ask for FIFTEEN PERCENT above the offer, and not settle for less. For an entry-level non-faculty position.

    Discover magazine’s blog also picked this up:

    The comments are illuminating.

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