Study Reveals: Science Favors Male Students

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In college, I attended a “Women in Science” seminar. I wasn’t in a science course, nor did I have any interest in majoring in anything science, but I love learning as much as I can about any subject – especially when it’s free (or in that case, rather expensive if you included it with tuition). I can’t remember what the majority of the lecture was about or if it was just to promote the Women in Science club, but I distinctly remember part of the discussion being on how few female scientists there were (presumably are, that was less than 10 years ago). A new study reveals part of the reason why there is such a discrepancy.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) published these findings:

“In a randomized double-blind study (n = 127), science faculty from research-intensive universities rated the application materials of a student—who was randomly assigned either a male or female name—for a laboratory manager position. Faculty participants rated the male applicant as significantly more competent and hireable than the (identical) female applicant. These participants also selected a higher starting salary and offered more career mentoring to the male applicant. The gender of the faculty participants did not affect responses, such that female and male faculty were equally likely to exhibit bias against the female student.”

This is not good news for women in or interested in science. Any ideas on how to change this attitude? Do you think this bias of a male preference and dominance has an effect on studies conducted, topics picked, or even outcomes?

Photo by George Joch / courtesy Argonne National Laboratory, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.


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