A Reading List on Implicit Bias: Gender

A Reading List on Implicit Bias: Gender October 18, 2017


One of the first posts I ever wrote for Daylight Atheism, “On Presuppositions“, discusses how implicit prejudices about race and gender influence our actions – even among people who don’t consciously endorse those prejudices. The post discussed the famous Implicit Association Test, which shows among other things that the vast majority of people take less time to link business and work concepts with men and housework and childraising concepts with women than to do the opposite.

The IAT is one demonstration of how these poisonous memes are circulating in society, whether we perceive them or not, and affect our choices and our reactions at an unconscious level. In an individual case it can be hard to see, but when you step back and look at the larger set of data, an undeniable pattern emerges.

For future reference, today I want to provide a list of links I’ve collected over the past several years that back up this point when it comes to gender prejudice. I don’t expect this to sway a hardcore bigot, but for those who are still on the fence, I’m hoping it will be a valuable resource showing that this phenomenon is real. I’ll update this page with new studies as I come across them, and if you have other examples, feel free to list them in the comments. (Also see this previous post on racial prejudice.)

Study shows gender bias in science is real. Here’s why it matters, Scientific American, September 2012:

Half the scientists were given the application with a male name attached, and half were given the exact same application with a female name attached. Results found that the “female” applicants were rated significantly lower than the “males” in competence, hireability, and whether the scientist would be willing to mentor the student.

The scientists also offered lower starting salaries to the “female” applicants: $26,507.94 compared to $30,238.10.

Professors Are Prejudiced, Too, The New York Times, May 2014:

Professors were more responsive to white male students than to female, black, Hispanic, Indian or Chinese students in almost every discipline and across all types of universities. We found the most severe bias in disciplines paying higher faculty salaries and at private universities.

The ‘Feminized Society’ Myth, In These Times, January 2014:

In one study on gender parity in the workforce… it was found that men “consistently perceive more gender parity” in their workplaces than women do. For example, when asked whether their workplaces recruited the same number of men and women, 72 percent of male managers answered “yes.” Only 42 percent of female managers agreed. And, while there’s a persistent stereotype that women are the more talkative gender, women actually tend to talk less than men in classroom discussions, professional contexts and even romantic relationships; one study found that a mixed-gender group needed to be between 60 and 80 percent female before women and men occupied equal time in the conversation.

• “How Not to Pick Judges“, The New York Times, May 2014:

The data show that, even when matching comparable candidates, the bar association rates minorities and women significantly lower than their white or male counterparts… Women are 19 percentage points less likely to earn a thumbs up.

Women Get Interrupted More — Even By Other Women, The New Republic, May 2014:

Over the course of each three-minute conversation, women, on average, interrupted men just once, but interrupted other women 2.8 times. Men interrupted their male conversation partner twice, on average, and interrupted the woman 2.6 times.

Lean Out: The Dangers for Women Who Negotiate, The New Yorker, June 2014:

In four studies, Bowles and collaborators from Carnegie Mellon found that people penalized women who initiated negotiations for higher compensation more than they did men. The effect held whether they saw the negotiation on video or read about it on paper, whether they viewed it from a disinterested third-party perspective or imagined themselves as senior managers in a corporation evaluating an internal candidate.

The abrasiveness trap: High-achieving men and women are described differently in reviews, Fortune, August 2014:

When breaking the reviews down by gender of the person evaluated, 58.9% of the reviews received by men contained critical feedback. 87.9% of the reviews received by women did.

…This kind of negative personality criticism — watch your tone! step back! stop being so judgmental! — shows up twice in the 83 critical reviews received by men. It shows up in 71 of the 94 critical reviews received by women.

The Motherhood Penalty vs. the Fatherhood Bonus, The New York Times, September 2014:

…on average, men’s earnings increased more than 6 percent when they had children (if they lived with them), while women’s decreased 4 percent for each child they had.

Is the Professor Bossy or Brilliant? Much Depends on Gender, The New York Times, February 2015:

It suggests that people tend to think more highly of men than women in professional settings, praise men for the same things they criticize women for, and are more likely to focus on a woman’s appearance or personality and on a man’s skills and intelligence.

How Elementary School Teachers’ Biases Can Discourage Girls From Math and Science, The New York Times, February 2015:

In math, the girls outscored the boys in the exam graded anonymously, but the boys outscored the girls when graded by teachers who knew their names.

Is Medicine’s Gender Bias Killing Young Women?, Pacific Standard, March 2015:

Only 15 percent of the doctors diagnosed heart disease in the woman, compared to 56 percent for the man, and only 30 percent referred the woman to a cardiologist, compared to 62 percent for the man. Finally, only 13 percent suggested cardiac medication for the woman, compared to 47 percent for the man.

Proof That Women Get Less Credit for Teamwork, Harvard Business Review, February 2016:

…coauthored papers correlate with fewer promotions for female academics. Women essentially experience a collaboration penalty, which is most pronounced when women coauthor with men and less pronounced the more female coauthors there are on a paper. Men, however, are not penalized at all for collaborating.

Are U.S. Millennial Men Just as Sexist as Their Dads?, Harvard Business Review, June 2016:

In February 2016 researchers at the National Institutes of Health published a study on how college biology students view their classmates’ intelligence and achievements. The researchers found that male students systematically overestimated the knowledge of the men in their classes in comparison with the women. Moreover, as the academic term progressed, the men’s faulty appraisal of their classmates’ abilities increased despite clear evidence of the women’s superior class performance. In every biology class examined, a man was considered the most renowned student — even when a woman had far better grades.

Is Blind Hiring the Best Hiring?, New York Times, February 2016:

Around that time, many began to use a new method of hiring musicians: blind auditions. Musicians auditioned behind screens so the judges couldn’t see what they looked like… Researchers from Harvard and Princeton took notice and studied the results; they found that blind auditions increased the likelihood that a woman would be hired by between 25 and 46 percent.

Female coders are rated more highly than men – except when people know they’re women, Quartz, February 2016:

GitHub, which is used by more than 12 million people, allows developers to write code for the projects of other software developers, who then choose whether to approve the submissions. Among the three million submissions (or “pull requests”) the researchers examined, female-written code saw a 78.6% approval rate. With male-written code, it was 74.6%.

If female coders specified their gender on their profiles, though, their acceptance rate fell to 62.5%.

The kind of boss who doesn’t like to promote women, Washington Post, March 2016:

Already, women are half as likely as men to get promoted to partner. But under conservative male bosses, this gender gap in promotion rates widens by 80 percent. The researchers also show that the more money that male bosses donate to Republicans, the less likely women are to make partner in that office.

A Good Woman (or Minority) Chemist Is Apparently Hard to Find, Undark, March 2016:

It would be easy to attribute this to a diversity problem within the chemical sciences writ large. In the United States at least, chemists are still disproportionately white and male. But the awardees don’t reflect the actual demographics of the American Chemical Society, where just under a third of its members are women, and 20 percent identify as non-white.

Women and Minorities Are Penalized for Promoting Diversity, Harvard Business Review, March 2016:

Participants rated nonwhite managers and female managers as less effective when they hired a nonwhite or female job candidate instead of a white male candidate. Similar to our first study, it didn’t matter whether white male managers chose to hire a white male, white female, nonwhite male, or nonwhite female — there was no difference in how participants rated their competence and performance. Basically, all managers were judged harshly if they hired someone who looked like them, unless they were a white male.

Women Held To Higher Ethical Standard Than Men, Study Shows, NPR, June 2016:

The researchers… tracked down disciplinary punishments handed out by the American Bar Association…. They analyzed 500 cases in 33 states where a lawyer was pulled up before the Bar Association. The association has very detailed rules and codes of conduct, and during these cases, attorneys are charged with very, very specific violations.

…Women had a 35 percent chance of being disbarred in any given case, and men had a 17 percent chance. So that suggests that females had a 106 percent higher likelihood of being disbarred than males.

When tech firms judge on skills alone, women land more job interviews, CNET, August 2016:

On two different occasions, Speak With a Geek presented the same 5,000 candidates to the same group of employers. The first time around, details like names, experience and background were provided. Five percent selected for interviews were women.

…When identifying details were suppressed, that figure jumped to 54 percent.

Why are female doctors introduced by first name while men are called ‘Doctor’?, The Washington Post, June 2017:

The results showed that male introducers used professional titles for female doctors only 49 percent of the time on first reference, but introduced male doctors by their titles 72 percent of the time.

Male writers still dominate book reviews and critic jobs, Vida study finds, The Guardian, October 2017:

Every year Vida – the New York-based organisation for Women in Literary Arts – counts the writers featured in dozens of literary journals and periodicals across the world, and finds that the authors represented, and the critics who are evaluating those authors, are consistently about two thirds men.

Women Need One More Degree Than Men to Earn the Same Average Salary, Time, February 2018:

Women with an associate’s degree, for example, earn an average salary of $43,000—close to (though still lower than) the $47,000 earned by men with just a high school diploma. Women with a bachelor’s degree earn $61,000 on average, just slightly above the $59,000 for men with associate’s degrees. And finally, women with a master’s degree or higher bring in an average $83,000 a year—while men need only a bachelor’s degree to report average earnings of $87,000.

…Even within female-dominated fields, men earn more. Women represent 96% of early childhood education majors, yet men in that major have a 40% earning premium. And women make up more than three-quarters of health and medical administrative services majors, but men who majored in that field have average earnings of $82,000 to women’s $55,000.

Same Course, Different Ratings, Inside Higher Ed, March 2018:

Mitchell’s appearance was noted by 11 percent of commenters and her perceived incompetence by 7 percent. No one commented on Martin’s appearance or incompetence. Students frequently referred to Mitchell as a “teacher” and Martin as a “professor.”

…Grouping evaluation questions on what they addressed — the instructor, the course, technology or administrative issues — the researchers found that Martin, the man, received higher evaluations, even for questions unrelated to the individual instructor’s ability, demeanor or attitude.

Punishing Women for Being Smart, Inside Higher Ed, March 2018:

Natasha Quadlin, author of the study and assistant professor of sociology at Ohio State University, did an “audit study,” submitting 2,106 applications for various jobs appropriate for new graduates. She varied the job applicants’ grades, gender and undergraduate major. For men, grade point average didn’t seem to matter. The key finding was that women applying for jobs benefited from moderate academic achievement but not high levels of achievement.

Of the applications she submitted from equally high-achieving male and female personas, men received calls for further discussion twice as often as did women with equal grades. In science and technology fields, the ratio favored men by three to one.

Doling out Hubble time with dual-anonymous evaluation, Physics Today, March 2019:

STScI associate director for science Neill Reid found that from 2001 to 2012, the success rates for proposals led by female principal investigators (19%, on average) were worse than the success rates of their male counterparts (23%)… the imbalance was systemic, with female PIs falling short of male PIs year after year.

…To combat that bias, last year the STScI adopted a system of dual-anonymous review, in which the names of the reviewers and the investigators are made known to each other only after the review is complete… And the early returns are impressive: In the most recent allocation cycle, for the first time in the 18 years of relevant record-keeping, proposals with women PIs had a higher success rate than those led by men.

Women of Color in Academe Make 67 Cents for Every Dollar Paid to White Men, The Chronicle, June 2018:

Specifically, the brief found that women of color are underrepresented in academe, compared with their representation in the U.S. population at large — especially in more lucrative faculty, professional, and administrative roles, versus lower-paying staff positions. And in three out of four job types (professional, staff, and faculty) women of color are paid less than white men, men of color, and white women.

Making Jokes During a Presentation Helps Men But Hurts Women, Harvard Business Review, March 2019:

One participant noted that the humorous woman showed “poor judgment in jokes” and another noted that she tried “to cover up her lack of real business acumen by making little jokes.” In contrast, participants who saw the humorous male presentation commented that “he is witty and likes to use humor to not seem like a stern speaker” and another said that “he adds a touch of humor to break up the monotony of his presentation.”

Constructed Criteria: Redefining Merit to Justify Discrimination, Psychological Science, June 2005:

Remarkably, perceiving one’s judgments as objective and free of bias predicted greater gender bias.

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