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

Posted By Administration, 03 October 2017
Updated: 03 October 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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C. Megan Urry, Peering Into Universe, Spots Bias on the Ground

Posted By Administration, 01 December 2016

C. Megan Urry is a former president of the American Astronomical Society and the first woman to head the physics department at Yale University.

Read the complete article on the website of the New York Times
.

Tags:  astronomy  Gender  gender bias 

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Why Have a Conference for Women in Physics?

Posted By Administration, 01 March 2016
Read the article by Shobhana Narasimhan on Multiverse, the blog of the ICTP.

Tags:  conferences  gender 

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IOP conference on gender explores how to open more doors in science

Posted By Administration, 02 November 2015
Updated: 02 November 2015

Gender still has a major influence on the subjects young people choose to study, particularly physics, but such stereotyping is not insurmountable, according to a report launched by the IOP on 20 October at the Opening Doors Conference.

Read the full article on the website of the IOP.

Tags:  conference  gender  IOP 

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iGIANTS - impact of gender/sex on innovation and novel technologies summit

Posted By Administration, 09 February 2015
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e-EPS: Getting girls into Physics – are we saying the wrong things?

Posted By admin, 26 September 2014

Read the editorial of e-EPS by Averil McDonald. The September issue is on line here.

Tags:  education  Gender 

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New Scientist: five women denied scientific glory

Posted By Administration, 10 April 2014
Read the full article on the News Scientist's website, including Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell's story (pulsar-discoverer and former IoP president).

Tags:  equality  Gender 

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Former ATLAS spokesperson Fabiola Gianotti to speak today at the United Nations on violence against women

Posted By Administration, 27 March 2014
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