Discrimination against women in science endures
Kenneth Chang reports in the NY Times:
Science professors at American universities widely regard female undergraduates as less competent than male students with the same accomplishments and skills, a new study by researchers at Yale concluded.
As a result, the report found, the professors were less likely to offer the women mentoring or a job. And even if they were willing to offer a job, the salary was lower.
The bias was pervasive, the scientists said, and probably reflected subconscious cultural influences rather than overt or deliberate discrimination.
Female professors were just as biased against women students as their male colleagues, and biology professors just as biased as physics professors — even though more than half of biology majors are women, whereas men far outnumber women in physics.
“I think we were all just a little bit surprised at how powerful the results were — that not only do the faculty in biology, chemistry and physics express these biases quite clearly, but the significance and strength of the results was really quite striking,” said Jo Handelsman, a professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology at Yale.
Dr. Handelsman was the senior author of an article reporting the findings, published online on Monday by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Nancy Hopkins, a professor of biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has long talked about continuing barriers to women in science, described the study as “enormously important.”
Dr. Hopkins said that small slights, accumulated over the course of a career, slowed many women of science. “They don’t have the confidence level to get to the top,” she said. “They’re getting undercut.”
She added, “People tend to think that the problem has gone away, but alas, it hasn’t.”
Discussions of gender bias in science and mathematics have long been complicated by a host of factors — including . . .