“If you want to be perceived as Competent and Influential, it sure helps to be a man over 35.”

That’s among the conclusions of a study using age to understand gender bias, based on over a million ratings of business profile photos.

The short version:

  • Both men’s and women’s perceived competence increases with age, but men’s increases 6 times faster.
  • Both men’s and women’s perceived influence increases with age, but men’s increases 2.5 times faster.
  • Women’s perceived likability declines rapidly with age while men’s stays about the same.

Not surprising, but perhaps particularly important during interview season, when academics are asked to assess job candidates for competence, influence (/reputation) and likability (/collegiality) in ways that cannot fail to be affected by perceptions of their age and gender.

‘Coddling’ Is Gendered

Or at least, the language of ‘coddling’ is gendered: ‘coddling’ codes as female or feminine. This is not complicated; synonyms offered up when you Google the word ‘coddle’ include ‘mother’ (but not ‘father’ or ‘parent’). An alternate form of ‘coddle’ is ‘mollycoddle’, with the prefix ‘molly’ said to be derived from the feminine name ‘Mary’ or (relatedly) from ‘molly’, meaning ‘girl or prostitute’ [yes, really]. I also just learned that ‘mollycoddle’ can be used as a noun, meaning ‘an effeminate or ineffectual’ [yes, really] man or boy. So there’s that.

In more ways than one, the application of ‘coddling’ language to student activism echoes right-wing ‘nanny state’ rhetoric, used to criticize left-wing policies perceived to interfere with personal freedoms. In both cases, we are invited to overlay a negative, feminized, childcare-related stereotype on to something in order to condemn it.

It’s a small point, but one I’m not seeing foregrounded in current discussions about ‘coddled’ students. Once I noticed this, it helped me make better sense of (some of) what’s going on in those discussions.

Brown, Fordham, and Marquette Revoking Honorary Degrees to Bill Cosby

Story here. A statement from the president of Brown discusses the reasoning behind the most recent decision, including the following:

The conduct that Mr. Cosby has acknowledged is wholly inconsistent with the behavior we expect of any individual associated with Brown. It is particularly troubling as our university community continues to confront the very real challenges of sexual violence on our campus and in society at large

Fit (as a fiddle)

Feminist philosophers paying attention to what happens when hiring decisions in academic philosophy are made on the basis of “fit”, and/or a presumed knack for spotting “talent”, may find some of the research cited in this op ed by Lauren Rivera (author of Pedigree: How Elite Students Get Elite Jobs) to be of interest.

Class-based definitions of fit are one reason investment banks, management consulting firms and law firms are dominated by people from the highest socioeconomic backgrounds. Also, whether the industry is finance, high-tech or fashion, a good fit in most American corporations still tends to be stereotypically masculine.

“Don’t similar people work better together?” Yes and no. For jobs involving complex decisions and creativity more diverse teams outperform less diverse ones. Too much similarity can lead to teams that are overconfident, ignore vital information and make poor (or even unethical) decisions.

Perhaps most important, it is easy to mistake rapport for skill. Just as they erroneously believe that they can accurately tell when someone is lying, people tend to be overly confident in their ability to spot talent. Unstructured interviews … are notoriously poor predictors of job performance.

Am I Being Paranoid? Being a Woman Of Colour In Academia

[W]hen one is constantly given alternate banal explanations for their ‘overly-sensitive’ perceptions, one loses the epistemic ground they stand on. They cease to give credibility to their own perceptions.

This self-doubt about how to comprehend and articulate one’s experiences becomes much harder to escape, when skepticism is cast by people who self-identify as ‘allies.’ If our own allies, well-acquainted with the concept of microaggressions, and well-meaning in their commitment to end discrimination, cannot see our experiences as the very sorts of experiences that they should validate, then it becomes much harder to trust our perception of reality.

From this blog post.