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Study shows gender bias in science and engineering hiring

For years, the speculation about why few women are chosen in professions that require science and math have been has been debated. Some believe that women are not encouraged to become scientists and engineers, while others contend that a certain layer of discrimination still exists that prevents women from excelling in these industries.

A recent paper published by the National Academy of Sciences may substantiate the notion that women are discriminated against when it comes to math and science. Essentially, three business professors performed three experiments with hiring managers. In one experiment, the managers were given no information about applicants other than their appearance. The managers were more likely to hire a man than a woman.

In another experiment, job candidates were allowed to predict their performance. The managers did not compensate for the likelihood that men would be more boisterous about their abilities, and that women would be more likely to downplay theirs. With that, the managers were more likely to hire a man than a woman. Even when given hard information about candidates’ abilities and accomplishments, and the men were predicted to be weaker candidates, the managers were more likely to hire a man.

Overall, the experiments showed that hiring managers were apt to pick up on negative stereotypes about women, but the same does not apply to their view of men. They were more likely to believe the stereotypes that women could not excel at, or at least were not interested in, math and science, but they were not accepting of the fact that men were more likely to exaggerate their abilities. 

Source: BostonGlobe.com “Study: Women who can do math still don’t get hired,” Shaila Dewan, Mar. 11, 2014

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