“But in a sign of progress, a 13 April study finds that faculty members prefer female candidates for tenure-track jobs in science and engineering — by a ratio of two to one.”
From an article in Nature.
This is good? Evidence that bias is being eliminated? I call bullshit. But before I explain, here’s more:
Nothing seemed to sway study participants’ preference for female job candidates.
Asked about the doubt that has greeted the study, Williams argues that “people find it hard to accept when there’s change, even for the better.”
How is a gender-bias (in ANY direction) good? The entire point is to have job-hiring that is free of any bias that is not ACTUALLY job related. So if people are biased towards hiring people based on their hair-color, skin-color, gender, or anything else that has nothing to do with the job, we should not be applauding that as “progress”.
The very fact that people preferred one gender over another by a whopping 2 to 1 is insane! That’s a massive bias. If it was reversed (preferring males to females) we’d not call it “positive change”. (That’s the universal test: flip the genders and then decide if it still sounds sexist or good.)
But there is good news:
Other research suggests that in the physical sciences, women and men are just as likely to secure a tenure-track position within five years of earning a PhD.
… a study in the journal Frontiers in Psychology reported that US women and men with bachelor’s degrees in science, engineering and mathematics go on to receive doctoral degrees at roughly the same rate.
That’s more like it, but it begs the question: why are some areas (like graduation rates) more gender-neutral than others (hiring)?
I suspect because graduating from college is harder to make biased than job-hiring.
Given the number of hoops required to graduate from college — and the far more meritorious nature of college education, in general — the preferences of individuals in power have much less effects on students who have to deal with such a wide variety of teachers and staff that it all likely evens out.
But in areas like hiring, where decisions are based less on the candidates abilities or actions and more on the whims of the people doing the hiring, then biases can creep in far more easily.
If you want to have gender, race, or other biases not play a role in a process, you have to literally BLIND the people in power of any knowledge of these factors. That’s the only solution that I think makes sense. Humans are primates, and primates can’t be as objective as we’d like to pretend they are.
I’m certainly not excluding myself! I noticed long ago that I am slightly biased against males when it comes to anything relating to trust or intelligence. That makes no scientific sense, and contradicts the evidence. Males and females are not any different in their ability to be honest or brainy. So, I have to fight against a natural bias towards preferring females for anything I consider important.
So if I was going to go through a hiring process, I’d rather not know what gender someone was. This way I can be sure that I’m looking only at data about them that matters to the job, not to my biased-by-personal-history, emotion-based whims.
We all have this problem, and this new study doesn’t say anything positive about us overcoming it. It’s simply more evidence to suggest that we’re just as bad as we’ve always been.
Now go lift something heavy,
PS. The pic at the top is of two of our athlete’s at Asheville Strength, Stacie & Aislinn, doing a 495 pound tandem deadlift 😉 One of the reasons I like math, the arts, and sports is precisely because you can’t fake them. They are meritocracies by default. Hiring for jobs in these fields is prone the same bullshit as anywhere else, but the activities themselves are immune. As Henry Rollins said, “200 pounds will always be 200 pounds.” Can you lift it? Good enough. (Of course, on the moon, 200 pounds is not as heavy; on Jupiter, it is heavier, LOL.)