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The Almighty Buck Science

Sexism In Science 467

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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  • An Important Study (Score:5, Informative)

    by ideonexus ( 1257332 ) on Friday September 28, 2012 @02:45PM (#41491685) Homepage Journal

    This is a very important finding, and something people need to be aware of, but I also want to add another variable to the equation: part of the reason women don't command higher salaries is because they don't demand higher salaries. I don't want to take the sexist position that women need to act more like men to achieve salary equality, but I do get extremely frustrated by the fact that my female peers seem to lack the will to fight for equal pay. My father had to coach my mother into demanding a higher salary when she got a job as a professor. I've had to coach my sister to ask for higher pay, and I've done the same for female coworkers, where I have even taken them aside and told them my salary to see their eyes bug-out and then get angry at the injustice of our different pay-scales.

    Yes, women and men discriminate against women concerning salaries and capabilities. It's scientifically proven, and it's something we all need to be cognizant of so we can work for a just society; however, women also need to stop allowing themselves to be discriminated against. I have seen many women go from unequal pay to getting what they deserve simply by having some self-confidence in their value to the company and demanding their worth when the opportunity arises to ask for it. If the boss still refuses, sue the discriminatory #$%@.

  • Re:Only in science? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 28, 2012 @02:55PM (#41491881)

    He didn't make one. He just said it happens to both sides. Stop bashing strawmen.

  • Re:Only in science? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Friday September 28, 2012 @03:00PM (#41491983) Homepage

    Reminds me of a similar study where they sent out identical resumes, with two random changes 1) names that "sounded" white vs black and (Dan vs Jamal) and 2) felony conviction status.

    You can probably guess which resumes got the most and least callbacks. The sad part is who got the second most. "White" convicts. Yeah.

  • Just my $0.02 (Score:5, Informative)

    by samazon ( 2601193 ) on Friday September 28, 2012 @03:03PM (#41492025)
    I'm a woman working in the tech field and I'm glad to be paid what I am (due to where I live, my qualifications, age, and the industry that I am working in). What I find strange is that I know that if they'd hired a man to do what I am doing, he wouldn't be expected to also answer the phone/greet clients when they come in, and he'd probably be paid more than I am. I'm not complaining, necessarily, and living in the South means that sexism is something that people "just do." I think it's quite clear to my employer that I'd be more productive if I could focus on the tech aspects of my job and forgo the phone-answering, I'd be much more productive, but we - oops, there's the phone.
  • by SirGarlon ( 845873 ) on Friday September 28, 2012 @03:19PM (#41492263)

    It depends on what you mean by "sexism."

    Back in 1999, MIT ran thorough study on gender differences among the faculty. It's an interesting read []. One of the striking findings was the consensus that "this is not what we expected gender bias to look like."

    Put another way, women's concerns in 2012 are not the same as what they were in 1970 or 1920. It could be your working definition of sexism doesn't describe the problems of women in science.

  • Nope, still sexist. (Score:5, Informative)

    by raehl ( 609729 ) <raehl311@yahoo.GAUSScom minus math_god> on Friday September 28, 2012 @03:22PM (#41492313) Homepage

    Good point though, this kind of thing could be flame-bait or it could be a real effect. If the numbers match up and females consistently score lower on exams and problem solving then it may not be a sexist bias so much as a failing in the educational method or testing techniques

    If men have better exam scores and men get paid more, that isn't necessarily sexist.

    But that wasn't what this study did. This study offered the same set of applications and randomized the gender of the applicants. The resulting disparity is thus entirely attributable to gender bias, i.e. the individual accomplishments of each applicant was overridden by their gender.

  • Re:Only in science? (Score:5, Informative)

    by whitroth ( 9367 ) <`whitroth' `at' `'> on Friday September 28, 2012 @04:09PM (#41493003) Homepage

    "Through negotiation"?

    Damn, you must have worked in very small places, or only as a consultant. That simply isn't true for 90% of the jobs out here, esp. for raises. The only time or two I've ever seen a "negotiation" for a raise involved a critical person quitting, and then taking a higher offer to stay.


  • Re:Only in science? (Score:5, Informative)

    by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo@world3.nBLUEet minus berry> on Friday September 28, 2012 @04:14PM (#41493081) Homepage Journal

    Comparing workers of the same age in the same job fail because women take more time off in their careers to raise children and therefore have on average less work experience than men. Comparing overall years of experience also fails because women work part time much more often than men. Sounds obvious but a lot of studies that "show" that women are discriminated against actually suffer from one or both of the above problems.

    And that is a problem. Women are the only ones who can have kids, and we (as a society) obviously need kids and most people accept that facilitating the creation of families is a good thing. Women are thus faced with a choice between harming their career or not having a family, where as men can need not make that choice. Children are not just a lifestyle choice (we need them) and by supporting women who have them men are just doing their fair share.

    It isn't just less experience either. Women find it harder to get jobs in the first place when they are of child baring age because employers worry that they will invest in them only for them to take a lot of time off or even stop working completely. Even women who work while their children are young are seen as distracted and unwilling to put in the long hours men might.

  • by Geof ( 153857 ) on Friday September 28, 2012 @04:46PM (#41493549) Homepage

    The key is comparing apples to apples i.e. not just comparing people doing the same job, but comparing people with the same number of years of full time experience of comparable quality.

    A study [] that took into account education, hours worked, and skill into account found that:

    Earnings are a function of skill and effort as well as gender. But even after we control for these factors, a relatively large earnings gap between men and women remains. The gender wage gap across the major creative class occupations ranges from $20,000-plus on the high end ($23,400 for management, $24,300 for law, and $26,600 for healthcare occupations ), to around $8,000-$10,000 on the low end ($8,700 for education, $9,800 for life, physical, and social science, and $9,900 for architecture and engineering).

    Keep in mind that skill is not entirely an independent variable. People who are promoted to more resonsible positions have the opportunity to learn from the experience, whereas those who are not promoted don't. In other words, the effects of bias are likely to compound.

    So the statistics above may understate the problem. The unadjusted numbers are truly horrendous. For law, men get paid more than twice as much ($138k vs $66k), which seems dramatically out of proportion to slightly more schooling (17.5 years vs 15.6 years) and a significant but not huge gap in hours worked (46.6 vs 40.9 hours - I don't know about you, but I personally find a dramatic drop-off in marginal productivity as hours increase).

    Notice also the gap in education. Some comments here are suggesting that education is a domain of reverse descrimination, but that's not the story told by the wage gap.

    I must echo the request of others here: if you have evidence to the contrary, plese provide it.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"