Academic Scientists Are Seriously Biased Against Women and There’s Science to Prove It

Illustration for article titled Academic Scientists Are Seriously Biased Against Women and There’s Science to Prove It

Women working in STEM fields may have to stare into the beady, clown-eyes (clowns are bad news, you guys) of stereotype bias on a daily basis, but a new study suggests, all empirical-like, that academic scientists are, on average, biased against women in pretty much every way employers can be biased against prospective job candidates.


The study, published in PNAS by Corinne Moss-Racusin and her Yale collaborators, sought to test scientists' reactions to male and female job applicants. To that end, researchers did a randomized, double-blind study in which academic scientists were given application materials from a student applying for a fancy lab manager position. Though the applications were identical, researchers attached either a male or female name to the resume, and then, presumably, did what all good researchers do when test subjects are busy puzzling over material — waited behind a fake office fern and observed (binoculars optional).

The dismal results went something (exactly) like this: female applicants were rated lower (by both male and female scientists) than male applicants on scales of competence, hiring, and mentoring (i.e. whether a scientist would want to spend time guiding this novitiate through the labyrinth of academic science). I know — this totally sucks. Discover's Sean Carroll thinks so too, which is probably why his helpful bar graphs — one of which illustrates how scientists overwhelming wanted to offer female applicants waaaaaay less in starting salary — are in black and white.

Scientists, Your Gender Bias Is Showing [Discover Blog]

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Yeah, tell me about it. This doesn't seem like news, especially given that I feel like I've looked at tons of studies with this same conclusion, and have mounds and mounds of anecdotal evidence from personal experience. Then again, there are still doubters, so I guess it's good to have the empirical evidence pile up.

Also, lab manager is totally not a fancy position. It's a thankless, crappy job. No, I'm not generalizing from personal experience (yes, I totally am). But look at the salary they're offering - 26k for females, 30k for males. That's not fancy.