Cornell Study Finds No Hiring Advantage for Less Qualified Women for STEM Faculty Posts

Wendy Williams

Wendy Williams

In an earlier study, Stephen J. Ceci and Wendy M. Williams of Cornell University found that when all qualifications are equal, women are widely preferred by existing faculty members for open positions as assistant professors in STEM disciplines. (See WIAReport post here.) “Sex biases might reduce the number of women entering training for the professorial pipeline, but our results indicate that when a woman emerges from her training as a strong candidate, she is no longer handicapped in being offered the job,” the authors wrote.

But in a follow-up study, Ceci and Williams examined whether the preference for women as junior faculty members evaporated if women applicants had qualifications that were slightly lower than for male applicants for the same position.

In the new study, Ceci and Williams found that the advantage women had for open junior level faculty posts in engineering, economics, psychology, and biology no longer existed when male applicants had slightly better qualifications. “These findings should help dispel concerns that affirmative hiring practices result in inferior women being hired over superior men,” the authors wrote.

The authors noted that there are people in the academic world who argue that due to the persisting gender imbalance in STEM faculty posts, women should be preferred for STEM posts even if their qualifications are slightly lower. “Those who have lobbied for more women to be hired in fields in which they are underrepresented, such as engineering and economics, may find our results dismaying,” the authors write.

The new study, “Women Have Substantial Advantage in STEM Faculty Hiring, Except When Competing Against More Accomplished Men,” was published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Psychology. It may be downloaded here.

Filed Under: Research/Study


RSSComments (0)

Leave a Reply