Friday, September 21, 2012

Gender Gap, Sexism and Scientists

In the following excerpt from Scott Jaschik's story in Inside Higher Ed -- Smoking Gun on Sexism? -- what is really fascinating is the finding that both male and female faculty members were nearly the same in their anti-women bias. See the highlighted bit in the third paragraph below:

... a new study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences offers evidence of bias among scientists -- male and female scientists alike -- against female students. The study was based on evaluations by scientists of hypothetical student applications for a lab manager position, with the application materials identical in every way, except that half of the pool received applications with a male name and the other half received applications with a female name. The faculty members surveyed -- 127 professors in biology, chemistry or physics -- were told that their analyses of the applications would be used to help the students. And they were asked to evaluate the students' competence and "hireability" and to consider how large a salary they would recommend and how much mentoring they would offer the student if hired.

The scientists evaluating these applications (which were identical in every way except the gender of the "submitter") rated the male student more competent, more likely to be hired, deserving of a better salary, and worth spending more time mentoring. The gaps were significant.

Female scientists were as likely as male scientists to evaluate the students this way. For instance, the scientists were asked to rate the students' competence on a 5-point scale. Male faculty rated the male student 4.01 and the female student 3.33. Female scientists rated the male student 4.10 and the female student 3.32. On salary, the gaps were also notable. The average salary suggested by male scientists for the male student was $30,520; for the female student, it was $27,111. Female scientists recommended, on average, a salary of $29,333 for the male student and $25,000 for the female student. [Emphasis added]


  1. Anonymous said...

    So, did they finally cut the salaries of those female scientist evaluators? Say, by 19.025%? Ok, at least by 14.772%?


  2. Ungrateful Alive said...

    At least at the application level, the solution is simple: use gender-neutral names. When the candidate has to land up in person, it gets more tricky. But parts of old Europe (and British comedians) are far ahead of USA in that game...

  3. Neelima said...

    Oh, my! I never would have guessed this!