To test scientists’ reactions to men and women with precisely equal qualifications, the researchers did a randomized double-blind study in which academic scientists were given application materials from a student applying for a lab manager position. The substance of the applications were all identical, but sometimes a male name was attached, and sometimes a female name.
Results: female applicants were rated lower than men on the measured scales of competence, hireability, and mentoring (whether the scientist would be willing to mentor this student). Both male and female scientists rated the female applicants lower.
Not at all surprising, alas. I’m sure I have the same bias.
I’m especially interested that it’s Sean Carroll who points it out, because it was Carroll who said, in that chat about why so few women in atheism on The Point last month, that the goal should be equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome. I sighed at his production of that particular bromide because of exactly this problem of unconscious bias, which renders formal equality of opportunity worthless.
I wonder if Paula Kirby will see this study, and if so, I wonder if it will prompt her to have second thoughts about her “just try harder” version of feminism. The problem it indicates is precisely why I’ve all along found her version to be surprisingly naïve.
If you want to get your blood hotter, read the comments by “TW”…The first, for instance:
I would argue that experienced researchers use all information available, and sex is additional information in two ways:
1) The woman on average worked harder to get the same qualification, leaving a man with a greater potential for growth.
As mentioned before, women are more conscientiousness. Across my student years, many just got better marks, because they did homework well and studied more regularly. Even though some got better marks than myself for example, I always felt they were closer to their limits.
I recently had a class reunion where I discussed with a female school friend who was the No 1 math student why she never did math at university and “just” became a middle school teacher. I told her: Why did you never do it? You were better than me! She said: No I was not better than you, but I worked so much harder and regularly. I felt my limits. But you were just totally lazy, disorganized and de-focused and still passed!
2) Women get pregnant. This is a real disadvantage and risk for any project leader. I witnessed myself that a project leader hired a woman with all good intentions, but she got pregnant just after, promised to keep working, but then left. His project was delayed significantly and he said “never again”.
So given the same qualifications, I would rationally go for the man.
Yay. Conscious bias.