Study claims US faculty are likelier to hire women

Published in Physics World, 1 June 2015

A study has found that US faculty members are twice as likely to hire female over male tenure-track applicants in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). The study, carried out by psychologists Wendy Williams and Stephen Ceci at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, does not specifically address physics and has divided opinion about so-called positive discrimina- tion, or affirmative action.

The authors invented three candidates: one well-qualified woman, one well-qualified man and one less-qualified man. They presented the candidates on paper – including fictitious CVs, letters of recommendation and interview scores – to more than 870 faculty members in biology, engineering, economics and psychology. To mask the fact that two of the fictitious candidates were identical aside from their sex, the researchers mixed up their descriptions. For instance, sometimes they described the female candidate as an “analytic powerhouse” and her male counterpart as “socially skilled and creative”, and sometimes the other way round. […]

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