Athena Swan

Athena Swan promotes and supports the careers of women in Science, Engineering and Technology (STEM), and aims to address gender inequalities and imbalance in these disciplines and, in particular, the under-representation of women in senior roles.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Men And Women Biased About Studies Of STEM Gender Bias – In Opposite Directions

IFLScience blog, by David Miller

In 2012, an experiment on gender bias shook the scientific community by showing that science faculty favor male college graduates over equally qualified women applying for lab manager positions. Though the study was rigorous, many didn’t believe it.
“This report is JUNK science. There is no data here,” said one online commenter. Others justified the bias saying, "In every competitive situation, with a few exceptions, the women I worked with were NOT competent.”
Now, a study published in Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) provides crucial clues about why some people were critical of the original finding – and other studies that have followed. The new study’s authors reasoned that men especially might devalue the evidence because it threatens the legitimacy of their status in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. Men might also be critical because of prior beliefs that gender bias is not a problem in STEM.
To test these ideas, the researchers recruited 205 people from the general public and 205 Montana State University tenure-track faculty. These participants read and then evaluated the abstract of the now-famous 2012 study also published in PNAS.
Men rated the research quality of the abstract less favorably than did women in both samples. This gender gap was especially large for STEM faculty, potentially suggesting that evidence of bias might threaten men in STEM seeking to retain their status.

Read more here.

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