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Science faculty's subtle gender biases favor male students.

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      Abstract

      Despite efforts to recruit and retain more women, a stark gender disparity persists within academic science. Abundant research has demonstrated gender bias in many demographic groups, but has yet to experimentally investigate whether science faculty exhibit a bias against female students that could contribute to the gender disparity in academic science. In a randomized double-blind study (n = 127), science faculty from research-intensive universities rated the application materials of a student-who was randomly assigned either a male or female name-for a laboratory manager position. Faculty participants rated the male applicant as significantly more competent and hireable than the (identical) female applicant. These participants also selected a higher starting salary and offered more career mentoring to the male applicant. The gender of the faculty participants did not affect responses, such that female and male faculty were equally likely to exhibit bias against the female student. Mediation analyses indicated that the female student was less likely to be hired because she was viewed as less competent. We also assessed faculty participants' preexisting subtle bias against women using a standard instrument and found that preexisting subtle bias against women played a moderating role, such that subtle bias against women was associated with less support for the female student, but was unrelated to reactions to the male student. These results suggest that interventions addressing faculty gender bias might advance the goal of increasing the participation of women in science.

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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ] Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.
            Journal
            Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A.
            Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
            Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
            1091-6490
            0027-8424
            Oct 09 2012
            : 109
            : 41
            22988126
            1211286109
            10.1073/pnas.1211286109
            3478626

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