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Thursday, April 27, 2023

Little Gender Bias in Academic Science

Katherine Knott at Inside Higher Ed:
Claims of widespread gender bias in tenure-track hiring, grant funding and journal acceptances in the academic sciences are not supported by the data, a new study finds.

The paper published in Psychological Science in the Public Interest looked at two decades of research regarding biases that tenure-track women have faced since 2000. In the end, the authors determined tenure-track women in science, technology, engineering or math were at parity with men in tenure-track positions in the same fields when it comes to grant funding, journal acceptances and recommendation letters.

Women did have an advantage in the hiring process for the tenure-track jobs, though the evidence did show a bias against women in teaching evaluations and salaries. The salary gap, according to the report, was concerning but smaller than the oft-quoted statistic that women in STEM fields make 82 cents for every dollar that men earn. On average, the gap was 9 cents on the dollar.

“We’re getting really close to an equitable landscape,” said Wendy Williams, a professor in the department of human development at Cornell University and an author of the paper. “We’ve come 90 percent of the way, and so what stands between us and that is not an insurmountable task anymore. It’s really important for young women in college who are considering going to grad school and women in grad school who are considering becoming professors.”

Williams said the discourse about sexism in higher education can discourage some women from choosing a career in the academy.

Williams co-wrote the paper with Stephen Ceci, a professor of developmental psychology at Cornell, and Shulamit Kahn, an associate professor of economics at Boston University. The paper was “an adversarial collaboration,” bringing together researchers with different viewpoints. Williams and Ceci have written often to rebut frequent talking points on gender bias in STEM, while Kahn has a history of revealing gender inequities in her field.