Friday, September 28, 2012

Gender bias among professors of science

Professors of science in US universities (regardless of gender) have a gender bias, unconscious or otherwise. So reports the New York Times.  Excerpt beyond the fold.

....the Yale researchers sought to design the simplest study possible. They contacted professors in the biology, chemistry and physics departments at six major research universities — three private and three public, unnamed in the study — and asked them to evaluate, as part of a study, an application from a recent graduate seeking a position as a laboratory manager.

All of the professors received the same one-page summary, which portrayed the applicant as promising but not stellar. But in half of the descriptions, the mythical applicant was named John and in half the applicant was named Jennifer. 

About 30 percent of the professors, 127 in all, responded. (They were asked not to discuss the study with colleagues, limiting the chance that they would compare notes and realize its purpose.)
On a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 being highest, professors gave John an average score of 4 for competence and Jennifer 3.3. John was also seen more favorably as someone they might hire for their laboratories or would be willing to mentor. 

The average starting salary offered to Jennifer was $26,508. To John it was $30,328.

The bias had no relation to the professors’ age, sex, teaching field or tenure status.