Sexism in Academic Hiring — A Myth? (updated)


A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences produced findings that appear to show that hiring practices in certain fields are not biased against women. Here is the paper’s “significance” summary:

The underrepresentation of women in academic science is typically attributed, both in scientific literature and in the media, to sexist hiring. Here we report five hiring experiments in which faculty evaluated hypothetical female and male applicants, using systematically varied profiles disguising identical scholarship, for assistant professorships in biology, engineering, economics, and psychology. Contrary to prevailing assumptions, men and women faculty members from all four fields preferred female applicants 2:1 over identically qualified males with matching lifestyles (single, married, divorced), with the exception of male economists, who showed no gender preference. Comparing different lifestyles revealed that women preferred divorced mothers to married fathers and that men preferred mothers who took parental leaves to mothers who did not. Our findings, supported by real-world academic hiring data, suggest advantages for women launching academic science careers.

The study, “National hiring experiments reveal 2:1 faculty preference for women on STEM tenure track,” by Wendy M. Williams and Stephen J. Ceci (both of Cornell) made use of

National randomized experiments and validation studies… conducted on 873 tenure-track faculty (439 male, 434 female) from biology, engineering, economics, and psychology at 371 universities/colleges from 50 US states and the District of Columbia. In the main experiment, 363 faculty members evaluated narrative summaries describing hypothetical female and male applicants for tenure-track assistant professorships who shared the same lifestyle (e.g., single without children, married with children). Applicants’ profiles were systematically varied to disguise identically rated scholarship; profiles were counterbalanced by gender across faculty to enable between-faculty comparisons of hiring preferences for identically qualified women versus men. 

The researchers did not look at hiring in philosophy, though it does not seem unreasonable to assume that they would come up with similar findings if they did. What should we do in light of these findings? In the abstract of the paper, the authors write:

These results suggest it is a propitious time for women launching careers in academic science. Messages to the contrary may discourage women from applying for STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) tenure-track assistant professorships.

And in the paper (p.6) they write:

Research on actual hiring shows female Ph.D.s are disproportionately less likely to apply for tenure-track positions, but if they do apply, they are more likely to be hired… We hope the discovery of an overall 2:1 preference for hiring women over otherwise identical men will help counter self-handicapping and opting-out by talented women at the point of entry to the STEM professoriate, and suggest that female underrepresentation can be addressed in part by increasing the number of women applying for tenure-track positions

While that claim about “messages to the contrary” being discouraging is not, strictly speaking, supported by the experimental data the authors produce, it does seem reasonable. It may indeed be that  if there is a concern with the underrepresentation of women in philosophy, one strategy that might help would be to broadcast findings like these, so as to provide encouragement to would-be woman philosophers. Note that it doesn’t follow from the authors’ study and recommendations that, if we want to increase the number of women in philosophy, we ought also to stop drawing attention to various problems regarding the treatment of women in philosophy. That would be quite an extension of the authors’ recommendation, and seems an unwarranted conclusion to draw, as paying attention to such problems may ultimately lead to changes that make the profession more likely to be of interest to women.

The study is also discussed today at Inside Higher Ed.

UPDATE (4/15/15): Helen De Cruz (VU Amsterdam) comments on the study in a post entitled “Assessing inductive risk in the Williams and Ceci studies” at New APPS. There’s also a discussion of the study at Feminist Philosophers.

UPDATE 2 (4/15/15): Michael Brownstein (CUNY / John Jay) has some extensive comments on the study here.

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Jessica
6 years ago

The methodology is peculiar, since it looks like they provided the faculty members in the study with detailed personal information about the hypothetical candidates (martial status, children, lifestyle, etc) that real hiring committees would not have access to (and wouldn’t be allowed to ask for), so I am not sure that one can generalize from their results to conclusions about actual hiring practices with equally qualified candidates, which (for first round interviews at least) would be based on CVs/letters. It’s possible that the additional personal information in the applicant profiles allowed the faculty members to more consciously aim to overcome implicit biases, but even if that is the explanation (or one of the explanations) for the study findings that still won’t apply to actual hiring practices.Report

twbb
twbb
Reply to  Jessica
6 years ago

[email protected] (for some reason my replies never seem to nest right, not sure why):

Experiment 4 does CV ranking. I think the sample size is a little too low personally, but it still seems to otherwise been a valid methodology. And they compare their results to the NRC research showing that women are more likely to be hired for faculty jobs.Report

David Sobel
David Sobel
6 years ago

I would hope we could agree that increasing diversity and counteracting societal prejudice, when it can be done without sacrificing academic excellence, is to be preferred.Report

Professor Plum
Professor Plum
6 years ago

I’m not exactly surprised by these results. In white, male dominated fields most people want to hire, or claim to want to hire, women and racial minorities. In my own overwhelmingly white and male graduate program, every search was preceded with much discussion about how committed everyone was to diversity, but then, somehow, the job was offered to a white male due to a perceived lack of qualified “diverse” candidates.

I certainly hope the situation is changing, but I’m skeptical of those who insist on declaring the end of sexism and racism in academic hiring. Why the rush? Despite the professed aim of encouraging qualified women to enter the academy, this study will be used by white males to insist that they are the real victims of discrimination.Report

anon grad student
anon grad student
6 years ago

Sobel,

When similar studies were published showing racial and gender bias in hiring decisions (in various domains), I don’t recall anyone saying: “at least we are not sacrificing academic excellence, because the studies only show bias in favor of equally qualified white men”. Everyone inferred that such biases were in play in real life situations, to the detriment of better qualified women and minorities. (Moreover, such biases would be considered scandalous *even if*, implausibly, they only applied to equally qualified candidates.) Similarly, we should find it very upsetting if the 2:1 preference ratio for women shown by this study were true in philosophy as well.Report

James Harold
6 years ago

I wonder if the results would be the same if the experiment were done with philosophy candidates. Of the four fields they looked at, only engineering has as low a proportion of women Ph.D.s as philosophy.Report

Plouffe
Plouffe
6 years ago

Jessica, from the abstract:

“In two validation studies, 35 engineering faculty provided rankings using full curricula vitae instead of narratives, and 127 faculty rated one applicant rather than choosing from a mixed-gender group; the same preference for women was shown by faculty of both genders.”Report

Yehouda Harpaz
Yehouda Harpaz
6 years ago

The paper does not discuss at all whether what they find is “ecologically” valid, i.e. whether it is valid for actual decisions. When you consider experiments on human behavior, this is always an issue, and serious scientists must know that and consider it. Since the authors didn’t consider it, it shows that they are not serious scientists.Report

Jessica
6 years ago

Thanks for the clarification!Report

Jennifer Frey
Jennifer Frey
6 years ago

I haven’t read this study, but the article quotes several scholars who find it flawed along different dimensions.

I would like to note that one study does not expose a phenomenon as a “myth,” let alone does it show that something the study didn’t even take as its topic–sexism in academic hiring tout court–as a “myth.” Only time and multiple studies that yield similar results could possibly do such a thing. I’ll also note that studies that rely on self-reporting are notoriously difficult to analyze (we tend to self-report in ways that track our beliefs but not our real world behaviors).Report

Ray
Ray
6 years ago

@ David Sobel, although this may be desirable, the problem is that the standards by which we judge “diverse” candidates’ academic excellence are different than the standards we judge non-diverse candidates. Based on the studies about girls and boys in primary school, this different standard begins very young and is unfortunately a part of the academia as well.

My second day of grad school when asked how to be successful in academia Cornel West told me that as a “diverse” student I have to be better than everyone else. At first, I didn’t get it. Soon enough I got it. The standards are different so to be equal you have to be better. This is just my experience as a “diverse” (black woman) in academia, which may not be true for similar people. I think we are just good at hiding or not acknowledging our biases. So when I see studies like this, I just kind of roll my eyes and keep working on trying to exceed standards.Report

David Sobel
David Sobel
6 years ago

@ Anon Grad Student:

Suppose, as I believe and you do not, it made sense to give the nod to underrepresented candidates and/or candidates who suffer from general background societal discrimination when the candidates are otherwise equal. Then this study would merely reveal that two thirds of the academics studied in this case were being reasonable. Granting that premise, should we conclude from this study that many are likely to be unreasonable in giving preference to such candidates? I don’t see why we should make that inference. Granting our premise, the charitable hypothesis is that people are generally being reasonable. Now if we think, as I do, that it is not reasonable to disfavor such a candidate when things are otherwise equal, then the large number of studies that show that people do disfavor such candidates in those circumstances seems to me good grounds to think they will continue being unreasonable in other cases when the candidates are not exactly equal.Report

twbb
twbb
6 years ago

As I skim through the paper it seems they quite clearly considered ecological validity; they provided different amounts of information about hypothetical hires to reflect different real-world hiring practices (including just a straightforward ranking of identical CVs), and at the end compared their results to real-world statistics.Report

Here is a Name
Here is a Name
6 years ago

Reading these comments, you get the feeling that people are expressing opinions in line with their political stances without having read the paper and whilst groping for a straw to hang their views on. Maybe we should read, digest, and then comment?Report

Yehouda Harpaz
Yehouda Harpaz
Reply to  Here is a Name
6 years ago

Checking for ecological validity means checking that the response that they to get their question correspond to the decision that people make in real situation. Amount of information is not the only factor. The main factor is the difference between answering some questions that doesn’t commit to anything, which is what happens in this research, and answering question when it is going to affect who you are going to work with in the next few years. These are very different situations, and people will give different answers.

The problem with their paper is that they didn’t consider this issue at all (I checked in the Supporting Information too), and that is simply unacceptable. You cannot ignore such a large factor without any consideration (I mean you can, but it is not a serious research).Report

Anon
Anon
6 years ago

What about administrators who will have little to no interaction with the person hired? Their decisions do not seem that different from the one presented in the experiment.Report

Tom Hurka
Tom Hurka
6 years ago

@ Professor Plum

If your department isn’t one of the top-rated ones, with the most prestige and the highest salaries, what your colleagues say may, unfortunately, be true. That’s because if minority candidates are in fact a minority, the best of them will be snapped up by the top departments, leaving fewer good candidates for everyone else. It’s easy for Harvard, Princeton, and Yale to hire diversity candidates at little if any cost in excellence, but much harder for more modest departments to do the same. Here’s a little model.

There are 99 new PhDs, 66 men and 33 women, and excellence is distributed in exactly the same way in the two groups, so the #1 woman is on a par with the #1 and #2 man, the #2 woman with the #3 and #4 man, the #3 woman with the #5 and #6 man, and so on. (The means and medians of the two groups are therefore identical.) The top-ranked department, which offers the highest salary and the best working conditions, can choose between #1 man and the # 1 woman, and since there’s little or no loss in excellence in hiring the woman, they do. This leaves the #2 department with a choice between the #1 man and the #2 woman — where there’s a larger gap in excellence. (Remember the #2 woman is on a par with the #3 and #4 men.) But they too hire the woman. This leaves the #3 department with a choice between the #1 and the #3 woman, who’s on a par with the #5 and #6 man. You see where this is going, especially for, say, the #25 department? Just because there are fewer excellent women — in turn because there are fewer women — affirmative efforts to hire them by the most attractive departments will make it harder for less attractive ones to do the same without larger sacrifices of excellence. (That will also be true if some higher-ranked departments hire men — so long as more than 1/3 of them hire women.) This isn’t because the women are any less excellent than the men; the spread of talents within the two groups is exactly the same. It’s just because there are fewer of them.

This is an artificial model, but to me it illustrates an all too familiar real-world tendency, for “the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer.” Every time Harvard, Princeton, or Yale makes an excellent diversity hire, it removes a potential such hire from the pool of those available to less prestigious departments, and since that pool was initially small, the cumulative effect of their hires can significantly restrict the options lesser departments have. To put it another way, by making their low-cost (in excellence) diversity hires, Harvard, Princeton, and Yale increase the cost (in excellence) of similar hires by departments with fewer advantages.

I’m not saying this is a reason to stop making diversity appointments — anything but! Nor do I have any solution to the problem, assuming it is one (maybe some think it isn’t). I’m just noting that diversity hiring is easier for some departments than for others, and that when more favoured departments make diversity hires that can make it even harder for the less favoured ones to do the same while continuing to strive for excellence. Another case where life, or the world, is anything but fair.Report

David Sobel
David Sobel
6 years ago

@Ray:
I should say I did not mean to say anything at all in tension with what you wrote.Report

Kathryn Pogin
Kathryn Pogin
6 years ago

“While that claim about ‘messages to the contrary’ being discouraging is not, strictly speaking, supported by the experimental data the authors produce, it does seem reasonable. It may indeed be that if there is a concern with the underrepresentation of women in philosophy, one strategy that might help would be to broadcast findings like these, so as to provide encouragement to would-be woman philosophers.”

Actually, I find it deeply discouraging, and not encouraging in the least, that these findings are being broadcast in such a way (see the title of this post) as to imply that they show sexism in academic hiring is a myth.Report

twbb
twbb
6 years ago

I don’t quite follow; are you saying that, if true, this paper doesn’t necessarily show sexism in academic hiring is a myth? If you mean that a preferential bias towards women candidates could itself be proof of bias, then I sort of understand but not sure I agree. If you mean that there can still be sexism even if women enjoy a hiring advantage, then what form would this sexism take? Something other than the actual hiring decision?Report

LK McPherson
LK McPherson
6 years ago

@ Tom Hurka
It’s unclear why you’re generally assuming that “the best of [minority candidates] will be snapped up by the top departments,” at least in the case of historically underrepresented philosophers of color. Yes, there is a widespread perception that this happens — though quite a few top or very good departments have never done such “snapping up” or (like the Supreme Court) seem fully satisfied with having only one such philosopher. But I’m confident, based on over 15 years of observational experience, that this is a misperception — a damaging and often willful one (that I’ve written about elsewhere in some detail).

There’s no need to name names of departments or persons. Maybe someday your variation of the pipeline problem will become real in the philosophy profession.Report

Kathryn Pogin
Kathryn Pogin
6 years ago

twbb, trivially, I take it sexism against men is obviously sexism. Substantively, see Jennifer Frey’s comment above for one, for two, there are many stages to the hiring process and many places where bias could inappropriately influence hiring–experiments in this study built into the structure that a hiring committee has already determined each of these candidates to be exceptional. What happens next is one thing, and whether or not everyone is equally determined to be exceptional on their merits in practice in the first place is another. The experiment that included full CVs was conducted on 35 faculty. Some of Williams’ and Ceci’s past work has been (I think) persuasively criticized as failing to be sensitive to the nuances in their own data and methods when it would serve their hypothesis that claims of gender discrimination are overblown, which, while not directly relevant to the present findings, should perhaps give us reason to reflect carefully on the data itself before we conclude what it shows.

So, no, these findings do not show that sexism in academic hiring is a myth.Report

Designator
Designator
6 years ago

Er… Which departments exactly are the ones “snapping up” women and minority candidates this year? From my glance over the PhilJobs blog and various more senior post announcements, most of the big departments hired men again this year.Report

twbb
twbb
6 years ago

I think my issue with these kinds of critiques is they are usually not bidirectional; they’re not applied to contradictory findings that use similar methods.

For example, the methods used here — asking for evaluations of biographical narratives and CVs — has been used frequently by other researchers to show bias against women in employment decisions. If you’re willing to disregard those finding, too, great, but I would suspect that fair number of people are willing to reject it in one case and not the other.

Do you think there is structural sexism in academic hiring? If so, what data or research are you relying on?Report

Acastos
Acastos
6 years ago

Prof. Hurka’s argument was anticipated over thirty years ago by Charles Murray in “Affirmative Racism” (New Republic, December 31, 1984). Hurka, however, does not explicitly mention an unintended consequence of the practice of affirmative action at the lower echelons of academia: members of minority groups will be perceived to be (because they probably are) less able than their colleagues. One would think this would be a good reason to “stop making diversity appointments” at schools where the quality of majority candidates cannot be matched by the minority candidates, let alone encouraging such appointments (as his “anything but!” phrase suggests). (Murray also expands his argument to begin with college admissions, and continuing on to graduate school. The logic is remorseless.)Report

Ray
Ray
6 years ago

Sobel I understand. Just adding my two cents.Report

Kathryn Pogin
Kathryn Pogin
6 years ago

twbb, I’m not disregarding any findings. I’m disregarding a possible interpretation of what the findings indicate.Report

anon23
anon23
6 years ago

Tom Hurka’s view that minorities are snapped up by top departments does not seem to be supported by the facts. This blog (linked to by Daily Nous recently) reveals that many top departments have not been able to find a single minority philosopher in the world that is good enough for them to hire: http://philosophyinclusive.weebly.com/Report

anon
anon
6 years ago

I just looked at the junior TT appointments in the US at PhilJobs, and I counted 4 women and 2 men hired by Leiter top-10 departments, and a total of 9 women and 7 men hired by Leiter top-50 departments (including the top-10 hires). You get a couple more men appointed at top-50 departments if you include appointments in law schools and business schools, though. Maybe the numbers are different for senior hires, but very few of those were listed at PhilJobs, and it’s too much of a pain to go hunting for announcements.Report

anon
anon
6 years ago

That was supposed to be a reply to #23.Report

anon23
anon23
6 years ago

In response to Hurka, I was only speaking about racial minority hires. How many top 50 hires were ethnic minorities? If there is progress in gender, we are still in the stone age with respect to race.Report

Yet Another Anon Grad Student
Yet Another Anon Grad Student
6 years ago

Correct me if I’m mistaken, but it’s my impression that the number of junior TT hires for women in philosophy is roughly proportional to the number of women in philosophy PhD programs, and that the real drop-off seems to be at the level of undergraduate major. It is also my impression that because of this a lot of feminist philosophers concerned with inequality have focused on what makes female undergrads less likely to continue on in philosophy after their 101 course. If I’m right about the stats then it seems that most of the discussion in this thread is a bit of a moot point. This is not to say that there isn’t sexism, but rather that if there is sexism with statistically significant effects then it lies elsewhere in the process (i.e., in undergrad courses, PhD programs, or in the tenure process after the person is hired). I’m sure someone here knows the relevant stats. Maybe I’m remembering things incorrectly.Report

Kathryn Pogin
Kathryn Pogin
6 years ago

YAAGS, the numbers are roughly proportional where you say they are — but that alone doesn’t bear on whether or not bias is present. We would need to know more about the merits of the relevant job applicants, about what kinds of jobs were awarded to whom, what do things look like in the job market at large (not just in TT hiring), etc., first.Report

Anon
Anon
6 years ago

Or perhaps there could be sexism elsewhere in the hiring process, but not at the stage of judgment about CVs?

It would be helpful to figure out what common claims about sexism in philosophy this study bears on, if it is externally valid. It seems to me to suggest that implicit bias at least at early stages in application review for hiring does not hurt women, for one thing–assuming that judgments at that stage are substantially informed by judgments about applicants’ CVs. That result alone would have pretty important practical implications, no?Report

Yehouda Harpaz
Yehouda Harpaz
6 years ago

> twbb on Apr 14, 2015 • 7:48 pm at 7:48 pm Reply
> I think my issue with these kinds of critiques is they are usually not bidirectional; they’re not applied to contradictory findings that use similar methods.

> For example, the methods used here — asking for evaluations of biographical narratives and CVs — has been used frequently by other
> researchers to show bias against women in employment decisions. If you’re willing to disregard those finding, too, great, but I would
> suspect that fair number of people are willing to reject it in one case and not the other.

Yes I am willing to research that make contradictory claims based on such blatant disregard to factors that may affect the validity of the conclusion. As to what “fair number of people are willing to do”, I actually agree with you on that, but that doesn’t affect the quality of this research. That what worries me: the politization (?) of science. Both sides are guilty of it.

> Do you think there is structural sexism in academic hiring? If so, what data or research are you relying on?

I believe there is some discrimination against women in academic hiring, in the same way that there is such discrimination in other areas, but that belief is not based on specific scientific papers. It is based on mu own observations, and I wouldn’t expect PNAS to publish it (I write it here only because you asked).Report

Helen De Cruz
6 years ago

One thing that doesn’t get discussed much is the inductive risk of such studies. Ceci and Williams might be in good faith when they write “We hope the discovery of an overall 2:1 preference for hiring women over otherwise identical men will help counter self-handicapping and opting-out by talented women at the point of entry to the STEM professoriate, and suggest that female underrepresentation can be addressed in part by increasing the number of women applying for tenure-track positions” – but it seems dubious that women opt out *only* because they think STEM and other fields where they’re underrepresented are woman-unfriendly. There is also inductive risk associated with becoming complacent and not considering structural problems in academia, especially given Williams and Ceci’s very narrow focus on what represents women’s “personal choices” (if someone leaves the profession b/c of sexual harassment, which is widespread in philosophy, is that a personal choice?) See also http://www.newappsblog.com/2015/04/assessing-inductive-risk-in-the-williams-and-ceci-studies.htmlReport

Kathryn Pogin
Kathryn Pogin
6 years ago

Anon–no. This study is about the end stages of a process, not the beginning, and it supposes that the candidates in questions are all exceptional, described equally as such, and it is communicated to the faculty members making a decision that a hiring committee believes these candidates to be truly exceptional.Report

anon from comment #29
anon from comment #29
6 years ago

Argh, what a mess. I was not replying to you, anon23, but to Designator, who left comment #23. Yeah, it’s hard to say for race without doing a lot of work.Report

Jessica
6 years ago

There’s very helpful blog post over at Feminist Philosophers on this study that addresses some of the issues raised in the comments feed here

https://feministphilosophers.wordpress.com/2015/04/15/michael-brownstein-on-williams-and-ceci/Report

twbb
twbb
6 years ago

“That what worries me: the politization (?) of science. Both sides are guilty of it.”

That worries me, too, but I’ve found that (and I say this as a self-identified progressive) that research that seems to support progressive narratives tends not to get the same skepticism. There seems to be an automatic defensiveness, as if you concede on one single front (that currently, it seems that hiring decisions are not biased against women) then you somehow giving up some advantage in a battle.

It seems to me that if you are going to advocate for fairer treatment of women in academia, by definition you have to accept that succeeding in this might be possible. I mean, if you are going to take a fatalistic view that it will never get better a la some post-structuralist feminist theorists, then fine, you’re at least being consistent if you disbelieve this paper. But if you are agitating for change, then you should believe that change can happen.

“I believe there is some discrimination against women in academic hiring, in the same way that there is such discrimination in other areas, but that belief is not based on specific scientific papers. It is based on mu own observations, and I wouldn’t expect PNAS to publish it (I write it here only because you asked).”

Fair enough, and I don’t want to dismiss anecdotal information, but I’ve seen a lot of people using purely anecdotal data to support interventions. There seems to be real-world data supporting this paper–that at the hiring stage (and obviously that is just one stage in a career), women are not disadvantaged. That doesn’t mean I haven’t observed sexism in OTHER aspects of academia; just that there seems to be a conscious effort to combat it in hiring decisions. And judging by the candidates who come through my department (admittedly, anecdotal) there seems to be gender parity.Report

Data
Data
6 years ago

One thing that might be of interest here is some data on this year’s hiring. On the first page of Phil Appointments, there are 36 women and 55 men (ignoring all names that weren’t obviously of a specific gender).Report

Steve Fiore
6 years ago

Below I have cut-and-pasted what I posted the other day on Facebook (and shared on some lists) after this paper hit the popular press. I think too much is being made of the findings/interpretations without enough reflection on the methods. I elaborate below what are issues of concern.
——————————
Steve Fiore
~ There is an important and interesting paper in PNAS now making the rounds (below is an editorial by the authors along with a Science article about it; I’ve also included links to the article and the supplementary material). It is a complex and incredibly well designed study with some very interesting manipulations, and a sample size allowing for the appropriate tests. BUT, I can’t help but question the external validity. Granted, compared to many studies in Psychology, it is much more ecologically valid. Nonetheless, I can see at least three concerns here. So I’m a little concerned to see the authors conclude, “We interpreted our findings to mean that anti-female bias in academic hiring has ended. Changing cultural values, gender-awareness training, and trends such as the retirement of older faculty members have brought us to a time when women in academic science are seen as more desirable hires than equally competent men” (from first link below). With that said, here are what I see as the primary concerns.

First, there is the potential problem of ‘social desirability’ driving the effects. This is because these are faculty who know that they are taking part in a study. So that could sway them to be more likely to choose the female candidate. Note that the authors did try to address this with their ‘no frame of reference’ experiment, but I’m not convinced that that test can fully rule out social desirability as an alternative. Second, if there are no ‘social desirability’ concerns, then there is a potential problem of a lack of actual ‘vested interest’ in the hire. In the experiments, these are faculty who are selecting a hypothetical candidate, and not one with whom they would have to work. So, since they have no stake in the hire, that is, they do not have to actually work with the person, that could sway the decision for the most qualified. My point is, in a real hire, there could very well be biases on the part of, not just men, but women, to potentially ‘not’ want to hire the most qualified in a real job interview. For example, in a real hire, men may exhibit the traditional bias against women, AND, if this were a real scenario, some women may not want to hire a highly qualified female candidate given the competition they might perceive. Finally, there is the issue of the experimental materials. I’ve cut-and-pasted a partial description of these below. For the purposes of the study, they had to come up with what they call a narrative summary approach. On the one hand it is a clever way to get around the challenges of this kind of experiment (e.g., it presents all of the relevant data without the cross-disciplinary biases). But, on the other hand, this is not the way hiring takes place in actual departments. Anyway, with all of this said it is still an impressive study. I’m just not positive that it reflects the full state of hiring practices, nor that, from this, it can be concluded that “anti-female bias in academic hiring has ended”.

The myth about women in science
http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/13/opinions/williams-ceci-women-in-science/index.html

Women best men in STEM faculty hiring study
http://news.sciencemag.org/education/2015/04/women-best-men-stem-faculty-hiring-study

National hiring experiments reveal 2:1 faculty preference for women on STEM tenure track
http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2015/04/08/1418878112.full.pdf

SUPPORTING INFORMATION APPENDIX FOR:
WILLIAMS, W.M. & CECI, S.J. (2015). NATIONAL HIRING EXPERIMENTS REVEAL 2:1 FACULTY PREFERENCE FOR WOMEN ON STEM TENURE TRACK

c. Cover Letter and Experimental Materials.
The materials sent to each faculty respondent consisted of a search-committee chair’s narrative summary of the scholarly record, job talk, and interview for the three top hypothetical candidates for a tenure-track assistant professorship (samples of materials appear in the Resources section). The chair’s summary described the mean rating given by the members of the department for each of the three hypothetical finalists, based on research publications, job talk, reference letters, and interviews with individual faculty. The chair’s summary did not list the number or type of publications, because pilot testing revealed that publication expectations differed dramatically across fields and subfields and had different value across institutions (e.g., what one institution regarded as a desirable number of publications to make their short-list differed from another, with research-intensive ones expecting greater research productivity than teaching-intensive ones). So, the chair’s summary provided faculty ratings of 9.5 for the two strongest applicants, meaning they were very highly regarded by departmental faculty who studied their CVs and attended their talk and interview, without specifying their number or type of publications. Faculty subjects were sent individual personal emails from the authors—no web interface, Qualtrics, or other “processed” format was used, so we were able to determine the exact number of faculty who were invited to participate but chose not to. Respondents were instructed to imagine that their own departmental colleagues rated the hypothetical applicants on a 10-point scale and the narrative summary for each candidate was based on their evaluation of the applicants’ research prowess, strength of references, job talk ratings by colleagues, and individual interviews. Respondents read that their departmental colleagues rated these three hypothetical finalists for a tenuretrack assistant professor position in their department between 9.3-9.5, which was in the excellent range.

http://www.pnas.org/content/suppl/2015/04/08/1418878112.DCSupplemental/pnas.1418878112.sapp.pdfReport

Anonymous
Anonymous
5 years ago

Related to Data’s point in comment 41… The Appointments pages on PhilJobs from Jan 1 to today, and searching only for junior/TT jobs, shows (by my count) that 31 hires are women, and 44 are men. So (if that’s representative, perhaps a big ‘if’), about 41% of new TT hires are women.Report

Yehouda Harpaz
Yehouda Harpaz
5 years ago

> Steve Fiore on Apr 17, 2015 • 1:09 am at 1:09 am Reply

> …….. Anyway, with all of this said it is still an impressive study. I’m just not positive that it reflects the full state of hiring practices, nor that, from this,
> it can be concluded that “anti-female bias in academic hiring has ended”.

How can you call it “impressive”, when it does not show what it claims to show (from the reasons you gave)?Report