Gender Equality

Where’s the evidence? A little science about bias and gender equality

Policy making should be informed by research. Whether it’s the writing of new laws, making policies for career advancement, or deciding how to make your conference more inclusive, there is research that is relevant.

In some recent presentations on gender equality and diversity, I’ve referred to several published studies. This posting lists some of those with links either to the articles themselves and to blog postings that I’ve written about those pieces before.

Although my current job gets in the way of an active life as a blogger, I do often post information about new studies on social media, so follow me there to see occasional advances. Twitter: @curtrice Facebook professional page: Curt Rice. Hope to see you there! (And, by the way, the talk I gave at #MICCAI2017 is posted right there on Facebook. Look! Like! Share! (And start at 3:15))

A largely overlapping set of references is also available in Eve and evidence: What research tells us about gender equality.

But before I get started with the references from my talk, here’s one of my breakthroughs in my writing on this topic. It’s a piece I published in The Guardian a few years back called Why women leave academia and why universities should be worried, and it’s been shared almost 40,000 times on Facebook!

[1] The “John and Jennifer” study about sending out CVs for evaluation:

Corinne A. Moss-RacusinJohn F. DovidioVictoria L. BrescollMark J. Grahamand Jo Handelsman. Science faculty’s subtle gender biases favor male students PNAS 2012 109 (411647416479

[2] The study showing female post-doc applicants in Sweden need many more publications than men to be considered equally well qualified:

Christine Wennerås and Agnes Wold. Nepotism and sexism in peer-review. Nature 387, 341-343 (22 May 1997) | doi:10.1038/387341a0

[3] The Spanish study of promotions showing women have to have done more to become a full professor:

White Paper on the Position of Women in Science in Spain. 2011. Ministry of Science and Innovation.

My blog on this publication: Spanish professors are sexist.

[4] More negative feedback in performance reviews for women:

Kieran Snyder. The abrasiveness trap: High-achieving men and women are described differently in reviews. 2014. Fortune. [not peer reviewed research]

See also: Paola Cecchi-Dimeglio. How gender bias corrupts performance reviews, and what to do about it. 2017. Harvard Business Review.

[5] Hiring bias in positions requiring skills in mathematics:

Ernesto ReubenPaola Sapienzaand Luigi Zingales. How stereotypes impair women’s careers in sciencePNAS 2014 111 (1244034408published ahead of print March 10, 2014doi:10.1073/pnas.1314788111

My blog on this publication: When women are good at math, they still don’t get hired!

[6] The motherhood penalty:

Shelley J. Correll , Stephen Benard , and In Paik. Getting a Job: Is There a Motherhood Penalty? American Journal of Sociology 112, no. 5 (March 2007): 1297-1339.

My blogs on this publication: The motherhood penalty: It’s not children that slow mothers down and The fatherhood bonus: Have a child and advance your career

[7] Study showing that aspiring for meritocracy can actually have negative effects:

Emilio J. Castilla and Stephen Benard. The Paradox of Meritocracy in OrganizationsAdministrative Science Quarterly Vol 55, Issue 4, pp. 543 – 676

[8] Two quota studies from Science, the first showing that affirmative action changes the applicant pool and the second showing that competition increases the performance of boys in athletics and decreases the performance of girls:

Loukas Balafoutas and Matthias Sutter. Affirmative Action Policies Promote Women and Do Not Harm Efficiency in the LaboratoryScience  03 Feb 2012: Vol. 335, Issue 6068, pp. 579-582

Marie Claire Villeval. Ready, Steady, CompeteScience  03 Feb 2012: Vol. 335, Issue 6068, pp. 544-545

[9] The study of the effect of quotas on group-wise qualifications in political parties in Sweden:

Timothy Besley, Olle Folke, Torsten Persson, and Johanna Rickne. Gender Quotas and the Crisis of the Mediocre Man: Theory and Evidence from Sweden. January 2017

[10] The study showing that affirmative action in internal promotion processes attracts stronger female applicants:

Stark, Oded and Hyll, Walter, Socially Gainful Gender Quotas (May 2014). Available at SSRN: or

My blogs on quotas:

New study: If you need quality, you need affirmative action

Two ways quotas for women raise quality (Or, Two ways quotas for women raise quality: The video!)

In Delft, men need not apply. (Yes, it’s legal.)

[11] Bonuses for getting this far! Here are a few more blog entries I’ve written on gender equality; you’ll find links to the peer-reviewed articles therein.

Are women finally getting smarter? This is about research on the relationship between standard of living and intelligence, and how that plays out in differences between the sexes.

Anecdata, or how McKinsey’s story became Sheryl Sandberg’s fact Here I show that a “study” Sandberg ofter refers to (even in her book!) in fact does not exist. The study was supposed to show that women have to be “100%” confident before applying for jobs while men take greater chances. Whether or not that is true is not my point here; rather I simply tell the story of trying to track down this alleged piece of scholarship.

Why are women so uncooperative? Here I dismantle a claim that women senior researchers are less likely than men to include young colleagues as co-authors.

The great citation hoax: Proof that women are worse researchers than men. This piece challenges the use of citation rates as a measure of quality by reporting on research showing that the scientific publications of women are cited less often than the scientific publications of men. Note that the jury is still out on this issue, with significant variation in citation rates being found between academic disciplines.

Do women avoid salary negotiations? 2 new ways to reduce the gender pay gap. New research shows that men and women approach salary negotiation differently and it provides some suggestions about how to diminish those differences.

The year the Nobel Prize forgot to ignore women. Here I continue my ongoing campaign of pointing out the problems with prize committees and in particular the seeming inability of all of the different Nobel Prizes to acknowledge the work of women. I got the ball rolling on this topic a few years ago with The Nobel Peace Prize’s Problem with Women.

Finally, I’m just as passionate in my work about changing approaches to scientific publishing as I am in my work on gender equality. Check out some of my writings on the topic of open access and more, also here at Science in Balance!

My interest in moving universities towards balance encompasses gender equality, the communication of scientific results, promoting research-based education and leadership development more generally. Read more


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