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.

Sep 21, 2012
Edyta Zielinska

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.)