Friday, April 17, 2015

Links: Women in Science Edition

  1. Toni Schmader, Jessica Whitehead, and Vicki H. Wysocki: A Linguistic Comparison of Letters of Recommendation for Male and Female Chemistry and Biochemistry Job Applicants.

    Letters of recommendation are central to the hiring process. However, gender stereotypes could bias how recommenders describe female compared to male applicants. In the current study, text analysis software was used to examine 886 letters of recommendation written on behalf of 235 male and 42 female applicants for either a chemistry or biochemistry faculty position at a large U.S. research university. Results revealed more similarities than differences in letters written for male and female candidates. However, recommenders used significantly more standout adjectives to describe male as compared to female candidates. Letters containing more standout words also included more ability words and fewer grindstone words. Research is needed to explore how differences in language use affect perceivers’ evaluations of female candidates.

  2. Joan C. Williams in HBR: The 5 Biases Pushing Women Out of STEM.

  3. Jessica Collett at Scatterplot: Feeling Like a Fraud? You Are Not Alone. A summary of her recent research on the impostor syndrome.

  4. Noah Smith in Bloomberg: Bigotry Is Expensive.

    So if a society bases its decisions of who gets which job on race and gender, it’s going to be sacrificing efficiency. If women aren’t allowed to be doctors, the talent pool for doctors will be diluted, and wages will be pushed up too high, choking off output. This would be true even in a bizarro world where every man was a better doctor than every woman! Of course that’s not even remotely true, but the point is, the theory of comparative advantage doesn’t care about average differences in absolute ability. If you’re making rules about which type of people are allowed to do which type of job, you’re hurting the economy.

    Just how big of a difference does this make? A team of top economists has recently studied the question, and their results are pretty startling. In “The Allocation of Talent and Economic Growth,” economists Chang-Tai Hsieh and Erik Hurst of the University of Chicago Booth Business School and Charles Jones and Peter Klenow of Stanford estimate that one fifth of total growth in U.S. output per worker between 1960 and 2008 was due to a decline in discrimination.


  1. Akilan R said...


    The 2nd link is broken. Ilayaraaja link in previous post is also mangled.


  2. Abi said...

    @Akilan: Fixed. Thanks for the alert!