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The Almighty Buck Science

Sexism In Science 467

Posted by Soulskill
from the objectivity-is-tough-even-for-experts dept.
An anonymous reader writes with news of a recent paper about the bias among science faculty against female students. The study, recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, asked professors to evaluate applications for a lab manager position. The faculty were given information about fictional applicants with randomly-assigned genders. They tended to rate male applicants as more hire-able than female applicants, and male names also generated higher starting salary and more mentoring offers. This bias was found in both male and female faculty. "The average salary suggested by male scientists for the male student was $30,520; for the female student, it was $27,111. Female scientists recommended, on average, a salary of $29,333 for the male student and $25,000 for the female student."
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Sexism In Science

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  • Only in science? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ktappe (747125) on Friday September 28, 2012 @02:29PM (#41491359)
    I'd be astounded if this were limited to just the science field.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 28, 2012 @02:30PM (#41491393)

    Let's talk about the complete lack of busaries/scholarships/grants for men in Science. At the university I studied at in British Columbia, there were literally a dozen monetary awards for female science undergrads, but absolutely nothing for men. In fact, the *only* award in Science that was open to both sexes was a $500 bursary for people of Scandinavian descent who also owned a woodlot in British Columbia. Seriously.

  • by SirGarlon (845873) on Friday September 28, 2012 @02:37PM (#41491541)

    That kinda goes against the claim by some feminists that women are the constant victims of men oppression dictating salaries.

    True, it refutes that male malice is to blame, but it also affirms that women do have a problem with bias.

    So, perhaps we should put the blame and counter-blame aside and talk about solutions.

  • by timeOday (582209) on Friday September 28, 2012 @02:38PM (#41491543)
    Dang women hog all the elementary school teaching jobs!
  • by Ukab the Great (87152) on Friday September 28, 2012 @02:40PM (#41491579)

    The more important issue is that we're trying to "combat STEM crisis" when both men and women have more financial incentive to manage a GAP [glassdoor.com] than manage a laboratory.

  • Except you can't really start talking about solutions to anything until you identify the actual cause of your problem. Recognizing that gender bias is caused by men and women alike is the first step in the problem solving process.
  • by teslar (706653) on Friday September 28, 2012 @02:50PM (#41491791)

    Not to disagree with anything in the paper and certainly not with the message, but personally, I would definitely have wanted to see at least one more condition: same resumes with no names at all. That should give nice baseline against which to compare both conditions (e.g. are female salaries marked down or are male salaries marked up).

    Also, I wonder what would happen if one were to replace the names with simply an indication of gender (male/female). Unlike the neutral condition, I don't think this would improve the study... I'm just curious if the gender is enough or if there's something specific about reading male vs female names.

  • by AdamWill (604569) on Friday September 28, 2012 @03:00PM (#41491977) Homepage

    You think perhaps that's a consequence of people observing the problem of sexism and attempting to do something about it? Yeesh.

  • by characterZer0 (138196) on Friday September 28, 2012 @03:16PM (#41492215)

    Girls need male role models too.

  • by MachDelta (704883) on Friday September 28, 2012 @03:16PM (#41492223)

    So the solution to the issue of excluding people from stuff based on their gender is... to exclude people from stuff based on their gender?

    Sociology is funny.

  • by raehl (609729) <[moc.oohay] [ta] [113lhear]> on Friday September 28, 2012 @03:16PM (#41492229) Homepage

    ...he doesn't want to spend his entire career having everyone wonder why he's in a room filled with first grade girls.

  • by supercrisp (936036) on Friday September 28, 2012 @03:16PM (#41492233)
    Or, if you actually, read some of what these feminists write, you'd know that it's exactly what they say: women adapt to and adopt patriarchy. They, so to speak, out-Herod Herod. You could also argue that these scientists' perspectives on salaries are based on their own salaries. So women, paid less, offer less.
  • by Firehed (942385) on Friday September 28, 2012 @03:17PM (#41492239) Homepage

    To be fair, most salary gains come through negotiation. Men tend to negotiate more aggressively than women, so it logically follows that men would tend to get higher salaries than women. I've met women in the same field as me with salaries as high or higher than mine; it's no coincidence that they were aggressive negotiators.

    If person X will accept the job at $N and person Y will accept an equivalent job for $N-5000, why on earth should the employer pay person Y $N?

    Sorry, but this is one situation where I believe the person feeling they're discriminated against is at fault. Want more? Ask for it. Not happy with the offer? Don't take it. I'll bet you'll also find that shy/introverted men tend to make less than extroverted men, also as a result of trying to avoid confrontations (read: negotiating).

    I'm sure there's employer-caused discrimination in the hiring process in many places, but I don't think that comes through in wages. There are of course counterexamples all over the place, but I'm referring to the overall trend.

  • by Firehed (942385) on Friday September 28, 2012 @03:29PM (#41492405) Homepage

    The same reason a 30 year old woman wants to spend all day in a room filled with first grade boys: some people actually enjoy teaching.

    Can we stop parroting the media's current trend of "all adult males want to molest children"?

  • by englishknnigits (1568303) on Friday September 28, 2012 @03:33PM (#41492473)
    Yes, lets punish the upcoming generation of males by preventing them from getting scholarships to write the wrongs committed by the current/previous generation of males in the work force. Good thinking.
  • by Grishnakh (216268) on Friday September 28, 2012 @03:34PM (#41492495)

    No, these kids don't need male role models at all. Men teaching young children are going to be perceived as possible sexual predators, and are in a lot of danger as unfounded accusations can ruin their lives (and this has happened many times in fact). It's better for men to avoid this field altogether. Will this be bad for society in the long term? Of course, but we reap what we sow. We don't deserve to survive as a society if we can't figure out how to fix this problem of pedophilia-phobia, and I don't see it ever being fixed.

  • Root causes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by naroom (1560139) on Friday September 28, 2012 @03:43PM (#41492621)

    Scientists are interested in making more scientists. That's why mentoring exists. Generally, females do not progress as far along the scientific career track as males do. They are just as smart and devoted -- up until the point when they have kids. Then science becomes less important to them, and they stop pushing so hard to become professors / researchers / Nobel winners / whatever.

    So, if you're going to spend countless hours teaching a student, which one would you pick? The male student, who's more likely to push his career like crazy and become a great collaborator and publish lots of papers with you? Or the female student, who has a 50/50 shot that she'll suddenly stop caring at age 25~30, right when her career would be taking off?

    Sexist? Absolutely - and this kind of thinking contributes to undervaluing females in science everywhere. Even brilliant ones who aren't going to have kids still face this bias. It's a disaster. But it has a logical cause. Until it's possible to have family-friendly science careers, this is unlikely to change. Right now, there are too many scientists competing for too few spots. The males are going to win, because they'll (generally speaking) put their careers before their families.

  • by Americano (920576) on Friday September 28, 2012 @04:15PM (#41493115)

    I'm sure there's employer-caused discrimination in the hiring process in many places, but I don't think that comes through in wages. There are of course counterexamples all over the place, but I'm referring to the overall trend.

    Sorry, but the study suggests that the *suggested starting salary* was significantly lower for women than it was for men - for the exact same information packet about the candidate, with the only difference being whether you were hiring "Mike Smith" or "Michelle Smith."

    If you are lowering your opening number by $5000 just because the applicant is a woman, that's not the fault of the woman. Even if the female candidate is a negotiator to shame Henry Kissinger, she has to somehow negotiate back that $5000 you took off the table on account of her having a vagina before she even reaches parity with what you were willing to offer a man as an opening figure. It's very facile to suggest "if you want more, just ask!" But when the expected opening number is $5k lower for a female, she has to be $5k worth of negotiations better than the male candidate just to be his equal in pay.

  • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Friday September 28, 2012 @04:18PM (#41493169)

    Sexism and racism are making decisions based on someone's sex. Affirmative action IS racism. Female only scholarships and discriminatory hiring practices ARE sexism.

    You're right, all those can be effective at doing things like evening out the demographics in a particular job. The people for whom they're "a giant brainfuck" are not convinced that correcting metrics, treating the symptoms, at the expense of more, overt, blatant, sanctioned racism/sexism is the way to go. In fact, it seems like they may have a point - discriminatory practices tend to have the effect of encouraging more discrimination. "She only got the job because she's a woman and they had to hire her" and the like.

    A better approach is to actually address the problem. Identify sexism and racism, of any type, when they happen, and stop them. Make such things socially unacceptable. THAT's how you eliminate discrimination.

  • i mean murder is obviously wrong, but it still happens. do you think making murder socially unacceptable will stop it? we're dealing with a kind of criminality, a transgression against someone else

    A better approach is to actually address the problem. Identify sexism and racism, of any type, when they happen, and stop them. Make such things socially unacceptable. THAT's how you eliminate discrimination.

    what does this even mean? this is a load of crap. something like affirmative action or progressive taxation or corrective hiring practices are actual real world concrete solutions. what you have written as a solution is a political paean, a nice vague soundbite that doesn't really say anything useful at all

    this is a discussion board full of engineers. solve the problem concretely or fuck off, we don't take kindly to puff words that mean nothing

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