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The impact of implicit bias for women in academia – and what to do about it

Posted By Administration, 19 January 2018

LERU, 18 January 2018 - Academia prides itself on being a merit-driven sector. Power, rewards and resources go to those who deserve it: that is how academics get jobs and get promoted, how they get funded and published, that is how they become leaders in their fields and in their institutions – through rigorous, rational and fair competition which drives the most excellent people to the top. But then why does academia have so few female university rectors and presidents? Why do women do less well in competitions for academic jobs and money?

LERU has been delving into how implicit bias potentially undermines the academic meritocracy, consulting with Europe’s leading universities that make up its members to find out how they view implicit bias and how they deal with it. The findings are discussed in LERU’s latest advice paper, which is released and presented today at an event in Brussels.

The paper focuses on implicit gender bias, although there are many other types of bias at play in our daily lives and in academia. And it is not about men being biased against women; women may be biased against women, men may be biased against men, and bias also affects our judgement of those with a different cultural, ethnic, sexual orientation, etc.

The paper does, however, argue– and shows the evidence- that implicit gender bias plays a role at many levels: in women’s working conditions, that is in terms of their underrepresentation at the higher echelons, of their earning less, and of their holding more part-time positions and precarious contracts. Secondly, it looks at bias in recruitment and advancement mechanisms: how positions are advertised, how selection committees operate and how the language itself of evaluations can be biased. Thirdly, bias plays a role in research funding processes.

The evidence for bias is everywhere and impossible to ignore. But action can, should and is being taken. Says Prof. Jadranka Gvozdanovic, main author of the paper and the Rector’s Envoy for Equal Opportunities at the University of Heidelberg: “LERU universities recognise that bias must be tackled by the leadership as a way of changing culture. The university leadership should fully understand the impact of bias and possibilities to mitigate it; this should be part of general leadership training.

There are many measures that can be taken to help debias universities, whether it is through providing bias training, using external evaluators and bias observers in selections, reviewing and debiasing job advertisements, etc. “Crucially”, adds Prof. Kurt Deketelaere, Secretary-General of LERU, “measures to counter bias will only have an effect if they are supported throughout the university, with those in charge of faculties and departments taking responsibility and with universities regularly monitoring and transparently reporting about what they are doing.”

The paper has a separate section detailing various actions undertaken by LERU universities on bias. It also offers nine key recommendations on how to counter bias at universities and in other organisations such as funding organisations and policy makers.

Tags:  academia  gender  gender bias 

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Bringing female scientists into the classroom

Posted By Administration, 05 December 2017

29 November 2017 - ALBA

From 29th November till 5th December, scientists and engineers of the ALBA Synchrotron visit diferent hich schools in Barcelona to fight against stereotypes and prejudices linked to research environments. The STEM Preparades project, which has the support of the Barcelona City Council, will end next 12th December when the students visit the scientific infrastructure.

Read the complete article on the website of ALBA.

Tags:  gender equality  science  women in physics  women in science 

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New Data on Gender Inequality in Sciences Salaries

Posted By Administration, 02 November 2017

November, 1st 2017 - American Institute of Physics (AIP)

There is a difference between male and female physics faculty salaries and the culture of physics is partly to blame, according to an article that is available for free this month from Physics Today, the world's most influential and closely followed magazine devoted to physics and the physical sciences community.

The article, "Salaries for female physics faculty trail those for male colleagues," identifies key factors influencing the gender pay gap and offers potential solutions that include changes in the culture in physics departments. The article is available at https://doi.org/10.1063/PT.3.3760.

Staff writer Toni Feder combined data from a 2010 report, “Gender Differences at Critical Transitions in the Careers of Science, Engineering, and Mathematics Faculty” (https://www.nap.edu/catalog/12062/gender-differences-at-critical-transitions-in-the-careers-of-science-engineering-and-mathematics-faculty), from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine that looked at hundreds of institutions with unpublished data from the American Institute of Physics (AIP) Statistical Research Center (SRC). AIP is the publisher of Physics Today.

What the unpublished data show is that female faculty members in physics have lower salaries compared to their equally qualified male colleagues. "The model says that if we have two people who are identical in every way, the woman will make, on average, 6 percent less than the man," said Susan White, assistant director of SRC, quoted in the Physics Today article.

The National Academies' study also found that there were inequities between men and women. Massachusetts Institute of Technology astronomer Claude Canizares, who co-chaired the study, explained that while universities do not purposely discriminate against women and minorities, inequities nevertheless persist.

According to the Physics Today article, other studies and observations support the data, with two key reasons for the gender gap disparity. First, women are less aggressive in their salary negotiations and also less likely to ask for a raise during their tenure at an institution. The second reason comes from the fact that men are overrepresented in some scientific fields, which introduces an implicit bias in university departments.

"Boys in the department give money to boys in the department,” said a senior researcher quoted anonymously in the Physics Today article.

To close the pay gap, MIT Professor Emerita Nancy Hopkins suggests that senior female faculty members need to serve on the hiring, promotion and editorial boards that are positions of power at most universities.

Efforts must also include male support to promote women and minorities in science. “It’s hard to break a glass ceiling by banging your head on it from below," Canizares said. "It’s easier to break it from above with a sledge hammer."

https://doi.org/10.1063/PT.3.3760

Tags:  gender equality  inequalities  science  women in physics 

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Leading women in Science: Why are we still so few?

Posted By Administration, 03 October 2017
Updated: 03 October 2017
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Astronomer survey reveals gender and racial harassment

Posted By Administration, 11 July 2017
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GENERA Gender in Physics days in Europe

Posted By Administration, 28 March 2017

In general, the physics research community fosters the assumption of being gender neutral. However, despite this, the under-representation of women in physics research is a long-standing and persistent issue. With this in mind, an international Consortium of Research Performing and Research Funding Organisations have engaged in the H2020 GENERA project which aims at continuing, monitoring and improving their Gender Equality Plans customised for the physics research community. The project started in September 2015 and is now half-way through its project life time.

Read the full article on e-EPS.

Tags:  e-eps  Europe  Gender  GENERA  newsletter 

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February 11th, the UN International Day of Women and Girls in Science

Posted By Gina Gunaratnam, 23 March 2017

On 22 December 2015, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a resolution to establish an annual International Day to recognise the critical role that women and girls play in science and technology communities: “Girls continue to face stereotypes and social and cultural restrictions, limiting access to education and funding for research, preventing them from scientific careers and reaching their full potential. Women remain a minority in science research and decision-making”, wrote Irina Bukova, Director-General of the UNESCO. A celebration event took place on February 9th 2017 morning at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, focusing on Building capacity and Empowering women and girls and on various actions on Women, Science and Society.

Read the complete article by Claudine Hermann and Véronique Pierron-Bohnes in e-EPS.

Tags:  gender equality  United Nations  women in science 

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International Day of Women and Girls in Science

Posted By Administration, 06 February 2017

On 15 December 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution A/RES/70/212 declaring 11 February as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

Read the complete article in e-EPS.

Tags:  e-eps  newsletter  women in physics 

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CERN - Naturally I'm a scientist

Posted By Administration, 06 February 2017
CERN’s female scientists share their stories for the International Day of Women and Girls in Science: http://home.cern/about/updates/2017/02/naturally-im-scientist

Tags:  CERN  women in physics 

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Women scientists

Posted By Administration, 05 February 2017
Updated: 06 February 2017

500 women scientists: https://500womenscientists.org/

Tags:  gender equality 

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