Study Finds Significant Gender Bias in Hiring Physics Faculty

According to a new study led by Asia A. Eaton, an assistant professor of psychology at Florida International University in Miami, there is a significant gender bias in hiring physics faculty. But the study did not find a similar gender bias in the hiring of biology faculty.

For the study, the research team asked physics and biology professors at eight public research universities to evaluate the CV of a candidate applying for post doctoral positions in their respective fields. The CVs for each hypothetical candidate were identical, except for the candidate’s gender and race, as indicated by their first and last names. The names represented a man or woman who was either White, Black, Latinx, or Asian. In order to maintain ambiguity about the study’s real purpose, the participants were told that the study was about how CV formatting and design styles influence perceptions of postdoc candidates. The research team included questions about this topic, but later tossed them, and concentrated instead on the participants evaluation of each candidate’s hireability, competence, likability, and competitiveness.

The results showed that both physics and biology professors rated women candidates as more likeable than men. However, physics professors rated male candidates as more competent and hireable than women. Black women and Latina women were rated significantly lower than all other candidates in physics as well. In biology, this gender bias was absent.

In order to prevent gender bias during the hiring process, the researchers suggest that universities establish anti-bias trainings to target intersectional identities. Additionally, they recommend that all hiring processes be conducted by a committee so one individual’s biases do not get in the way of hiring the most qualified candidate.

Asia A. Eaton is a feminist social psychologist and assistant professor in psychology at Florida International University. She is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where she double majored in psychology and political science. She earned a Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of Chicago.

The full study, “How Gender and Race Stereotypes Impact the Advancement of Scholars in STEM: Professors’ Biased Evaluations of Physics and Biology Post-Doctoral Candidates,” was published in the journal Sex Roles. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/Study


RSSComments (0)

Leave a Reply