BD Biosciences
BD Biosciences

Gender Bias when Hiring Scientists

Both male and female researchers are less likely to hire a female candidate than a male candidate with the same experience.

By | September 21, 2012

image: Gender Bias when Hiring Scientists Flickr, idovermani

Women are more likely to have a harder time getting a job in the sciences when pitted against male applicants, according to a study published this week (August 21) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

A total of 127 faculty members in biology, physics, and chemistry rated the application materials of undergraduates applying for lab manager positions. The applications were randomly given male or female names, and the faculty rated whether the candidate was worth hiring, their competence, and decided how high a salary he or she should be offered.

Both male and female professors were equally as likely to grade applications with a male name higher than those with a female name. Women were also offered a lower starting salaries, on average, than men with identical applications.

“I have no reason to think that scientists are more sexist than people in other professions in the U.S., but this is my profession, and I'd like to see it do better,” Sean Carroll wrote in Cosmic Variance blog. “Admitting that the problem exists is a good start."

(Hat tip to GenomeWeb.)


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September 21, 2012

I found the title of this article to be misleading, as it seemed to indicate that there was a gender bias in the hiring of faculty, not lab managers. That said, it did get me to read the paper and I was somewhat dismayed to read that the "scientists" conducted their study with a pre-existing bias. They state this quite clearly in their methods section "we investigated whether a faculty members perceptions of student competence would help to explain why they would be less likely to hire a female (relative to an identical male). I can't say I came away totally convinced by their arguments, but likely I am biased in my view because I work in an institution that only employs one male lab manager in all of the labs in Biology, Biochemistry and Medicine despite having a 50% Male to Female Faculty ratio in some departments.

Avatar of: Gary A Doss

Gary A Doss

Posts: 1457

September 23, 2012

It should all depend upon merit and character. Gender bias is so yesterday!!!!!! Perhaps the social mentality of scientists is also yesterday.

Avatar of: Sarah Newey

Sarah Newey

Posts: 1457

September 25, 2012

I've not found this to be true, I have worked in 1 lab overrun with women (myself being one) and in a company with 30+ labs where I didn't encounter a single male in the profession

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