Science: It’s a girl thing

Students at Dartmouth have answered a poorly done European video that purported to show that science and women are made for each other. The European video was clearly the brainchild of some guys. Not this one.

Men still outnumber men in science faculty at the nation’s higher education institutions. And Nature Magazine’s list of 10 people in science who mattered this year listed only three women.

But one was Jo Handelsman, a microbiologist whose research this year exposed the unconscious bias against women in science, the magazine reported.


Handelsman, a microbiologist at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, asked more than 100 scientists to evaluate applications from undergraduate students seeking a job as a laboratory manager — often a stepping stone to graduate school. Unbeknown to the researchers, the students were fictitious. But the prejudice that Handelsman uncovered was not. On average, researchers who received ‘John’s’ resume said that they would offer an annual salary of US$30,238; those who read an identical resume from ‘Jennifer’ offered just $26,508.

Chemists, physicists and biologists — men and women alike — also rated Jennifer as less competent than John and expressed less interest in mentoring her. “There was simply one treatment and one variable, and there’s no escape from the conclusion,” says Handelsman. This type of bias could be one factor holding back female scientists, she says.

(h/t: Boston Globe)