Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

Women, Science and Writing

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A microbiologist at work.

Image: East Bay AWIS.

ResearchBlogging.org

In the wake of the Science Blogging Conference in North Carolina, which I was unable to attend due to financial reasons, The Scientist‘s blog published a piece today that asks “Do Women Blog About Science?” This article was written partially in response to the kerfuffle that was triggered last year after The Scientist asked what were their readers’ favorite life science blogs. Several women, including me, noticed that they only asked men this question so we complained about it, especially since most of the men they asked preferred other male life science blog writers. This implies an inherent bias against women, however, one cannot unequivocally demonstrate this. But one can show that there is a bias against women in science by using other means.


Since The Scientist is revisiting this issue on their blog, I decided to poke around in the primary literature a bit and, as a result, I have concluded that the general lack of female science blog writers is clearly a reflection of scientific publishing and indeed, of the scientific community in general. The fact is that female scientists do not publish as often as male scientists. Why? Some people have told me that women do not produce scientific results that are of the same high quality as those produced by men (nor do they write life science blogs as well as men, apparently) and that male reviewers can readily recognize when a woman is the lead (or sole) author of a scientific paper because “women do science differently from men” (whatever that means). Basically, science is still a very sexist community where its female practitioners publish less frequently than men at least partially because of the peer-review system that is in place. I think the commonly used single-blind peer review process is biased against papers whose lead (or sole) author is female, just as the field of science is biased against women in general.

The single-blind peer review process is when the author doesn’t know the identity of her paper’s reviewers but the reviewers do know the author’s identity. Which, when I was in grad school, led me to ask on several occasions, why do reviewers need to know the identity of the authors of the papers they review? I’ve never heard a satisfying answer to that question, but I have heard female scientists assert that gender bias plays a role when their papers and grants are reviewed, although this is difficult to confirm on an individual basis.

Despite the scientific community favoring the double-blind review method, where both the authors’ and the reviewers’ identities are concealed, this method is rarely used, except in peer-reviewed medical, psychology and economics journals. However, a group of researchers, led by Amber Budden at the University of Toronto, asked how female authors fared under these two review systems.

To do this analysis, the team compared the gender of authors published in the peer-reviewed journal, Behavioral Ecology (BE), between 1997 and 2005. BE began by using single-blind reviews but underwent an editorial change in 2001, where they initiated the double-blind review process. This editorial change provided the researchers with the unique opportunity to analyze gender variation of the authors published under the two systems in the same journal. Additionally, the team compared BE with an additional subset of ecology and evolutionary biology journals with similar impact numbers, all of which only use the single-blind review process.

The team accessed all these journals’ online tables of contents that listed authors’ first names and assigned gender to the authors as either female, male or “unknown” (when the author’s name was gender-neutral or when the author provided only an initial). The team found that after the double-blind review process was initiated in BE, papers written by women were published significantly more often than prior to this change (Figure 1);

According to the data, papers written by a female first author showed a 7.9% increase in publication rate in BE while those written by male first authors showed a proportional decrease. This increase in female authorship is three times greater than the reported increase in female graduates in the field of ecology and more closely reflects the population demographics of the field itself, which is 37% female. When the team compared these data against those collected from the other journals with similar impact factors, they found there was no corresponding change in the authors’ genders during the same period of time, further bolstering their argument.

Of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg, as they say. I would like to point out that this bias against women not only affects publishing scientific papers, but it also applies to the review, grading and funding of scientific grants. This gender bias could help reveal why female scientists are rarely found in more senior research positions, since obtaining those positions is at least partially dependent upon the number of grants they successfully fund and the total amount of those funds.

Instead of hand-wringing and asking “Why are there so few women in science? Why are they leaving?”, it is time for the community to begin reflecting on the behavioral data they are being confronted with. Basically, the scientific community makes it very difficult for women to remain in the sciences, and one way in which they do this is through a demonstrable bias against women in the review process. In my opinion, it would take very little effort for the scientific publishers and granting agencies to change their review policies to incorporate the double-blind process, knowing that women (and scientific progress in general) will greatly benefit.

Source

BUDDEN, A., TREGENZA, T., AARSSEN, L., KORICHEVA, J., LEIMU, R., LORTIE, C. (2008). Double-blind review favours increased representation of female authors. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 23(1), 4-6. DOI: 10.1016/j.tree.2007.07.008.

Comments

  1. #1 jeff kilgore
    January 21, 2008

    You’re being read, even here in Kansas. My wife teaches AP biology and will likely make a copy of this available to her students this week. Keep up the good work!

  2. #2 BaldApe
    January 21, 2008

    I always wondered why, after insisting that they wouldn’t discriminate, the applications I filled out for college asked for sex and race data.

    It seems that scientists would understand the importance of the Sydney Glutz test. (in science fiction, if the author were Sydney Glutz rather than Asimov or Clarke, would they get published?)

    The photo reminded me of a talk I had with my biochemistry professor, (a woman, BTW). She told me that when they did a magazine or newspaper story and wanted a picture, they would make them fill up some flasks with food coloring so it looked “scientific.” Hey, some dry ice in that beaker would make it really cool. And an oscilloscope with some meaningless standing wave pattern. Yeah, and those cool wires with the sparky thingies, you know, the sparks that move up the wires!

    Sorry, got carried away.

    Fight the good fight and hang in there.

  3. #3 Christopher Taylor
    January 21, 2008

    One potentially complicating factor that I thought of when I heard of this study (which is not exclusive of the factor the authors supported) is whether reviewers respond differently to manuscripts by authors they know of than manuscripts by unknowns. Are reviewers more forgiving of someone they regard as a leader in their field than a student or recent graduate with few or no publications already out there?

    I don’t know the answer to that question, it was just one that occurred to me. Of course, such a factor would reinforce the current gender imbalance because established authorities are predominantly male.

  4. #4 Lorax
    January 21, 2008

    Regarding the single blind reviewer method. There is not necessarily an editor for every field of biology at the specific level needed to completely make well informed decisions on potential reviewers. Knowing the authors help me as a reviewer decide if there may be a conflict of interest, the person is independent but came from my lab, the person and I have competed significantly and though this specific manuscript is not overlapping it may have the appearance of bias, etc. Something an editor may not be aware of.

  5. #5 Peggy
    January 21, 2008

    Has a similar study been done on authorship in PNAS? I wonder because National Academy of Science members (who are predominantly male) can “communicate” their own and others’ papers to the journal. If I remember correctly, when papers are communicated the authors select their own reviewers, which is about as far from double blind as you can get.

    I suspect that the problem is not simply bias against women, but a positive bias towards other scientists the reviewers have a good personal relationship with. If a borderline paper from Professor Fred’s lab is reviewed by Professor Bob, I think it is more likely to be given a pass if the Bob has fond memories of socializing with Fred. Male faculty – especially older male faculty – are more likely to have such relationships with other male scientists, so men would be benefitted.

  6. #6 Peggy
    January 21, 2008

    Are reviewers more forgiving of someone they regard as a leader in their field than a student or recent graduate with few or no publications already out there?

    When I was in grad school, I heard this referred to as “the Kansas effect”, as in, “if this mediocre paper had been written by an unknown lab in Kansas it would have been rejected, but since it came from Big Name Scientist at Famous Research University it was published.”

  7. #7 bill
    January 21, 2008

    Wonder what happens to women with male-sounding (or neutral) names, and men with female-sounding names? Probably not big enough base to say anything conclusive, but it’d be interesting.

  8. #8 Joshua Zelinsky
    January 21, 2008

    Wow. I’ve often been highly skeptical of claims of sexism in science (and am still not at all convinced that The Scientist was at all sexist in its choice of which bloggers to ask) but this seems pretty compelling evidence. This constitutes a a very strong argument for double-blind review.

  9. #9 ChrisC
    January 22, 2008

    I’m new to your blog, and to blog consumption in general. I must say, the first thing that came to mind upon reading the the beginning of this piece was that it hadn’t occured to me to ponder the writer’s gender either way. Mind you, I attach less importance to authorship than I do to ideas in scientific literature in general . I tend not to be very good at ‘name-dropping’ for better or for worse, but it doesn’t give me much opportunity to be sexist since I rarely note the name, let alone the gender, of the author. I think a double-blind format for peer review is a great idea, not just for women but for all scientists who, for whatever reason, carry less weight with reviewers. You argue that this may apply to women in some fields, but it may equally apply to younger researchers who have yet to make a name for themselves. Conversely, big name investigators arguably get a free lunch every so often, publishing questionable or incomplete work on the basis of their reputation.

  10. #10 agnostic
    January 22, 2008

    This seems like a sensible thing to do for all sorts of reasons. For one thing, whatever the outcomes are, they will not be able to be blamed on sexism. Even with DB, males are writing the majority of papers in BE — and I’ll bet this effect remains more pronounced at the higher quality level of papers.

    It’s also not clear from the abstract or the graph whether the change was due to getting rid of sexism. To show that, we’d need to know the sexes of the referees / editors. Typically in studies like this (such as one looking at hiring Psych profs), the female judges are just as “anti-female” as the male judges.

    It’s unconvincing to suggest that such females have internalized or have been brainwashed by the patriarchy, like they were dupes, so their behavior needs accounting for too.

    Indeed, for those who know behavioral ecology, they know that female-female competition is vicious throughout the primate order. For all we know, the DB process removed a yet unmentioned, but potentially real, source of bias: female judges who were consciously or unconsciously trying to hold down their same-sex competitors.

    In real life, men very rarely try to hold women down — we’re too busy trying to dominate other men. Who teased you the most in middle and high school? Gave you bad sartorial advice to keep you from upstaging them? Stole your boyfriend? The greatest teen movies — Heathers, Clueless, and Mean Girls — show how real life truly works, especially in pinning down the source of female troubles: other plotting females.

  11. #11 Bob O'H
    January 22, 2008

    Ah, I was asked about this study last week. I had a look at the data, and I don’t think there’s sufficient evidence for an effect. They only have 6 data points, and the difference between Behavioural Ecology and the rest isn’t larger than what you would expect if there was variation.

    It’s possible that there’s also selection bias – did they start off by observing the increase in female authorship in Behavioural Ecology, and then ask whether it was “significant”? If so, the p-values go out of the window (which, quite frankly, is the best thing to do with them).

    Hmmm, I might have to blog about this.

    Incidentally, one problem with double-blind refereeing is that it doesn’t solve the Kansas effect. If I see a study on M. cinxia in Åland, I know which group it has come from. Or I could make a good guess from looking at the reference list. It’s sometimes even possible to work out the identity of referees from their comments! So, you end up with a situation where the big names who have a reputation get the effect (or people who present at a lot of conferences), but not anybody else.

    Bob

  12. #12 Chris Rowan
    January 22, 2008

    Some people have told me that women do not produce scientific results that are of the same high quality as those produced by men (nor do they write life science blogs as well as men, apparently) and that male reviewers can readily recognize when a woman is the lead (or sole) author of a scientific paper because “women do science differently from men” (whatever that means).

    Nothing to do with reading the author list and then working to confirm their own prejudices, of course. I’m tempted to demand naming and shaming of these morons. There’s a certain saying about considering the beam in their own eye which they need reminding of (there are a lot of lame, poorly written and pointless papers out there, and the gender imbalance in academia guarantees that the majority have male first authors*). Possibly accompanied by shoe-puking.

    *Or perhaps they’re using ‘differently’ in the sense of ‘properly’? Perhaps I should be being insulted on my behalf rather than yours…

  13. #13 Noonathome
    January 22, 2008

    I enjoyed reading this post. I’ve been trying to do the same for my blog (still rambling though) but in Indonesian.

  14. #14 Luna_the_cat
    January 22, 2008

    Around 4-5 years ago, I saw a paper which looked at how highly academic papers were rated for quality. They found that papers submitted with male names for the lead author were consistently rated as higher quality than papers with female lead authors’ names, and that this effect held true even where the names were changed to false names of the opposite gender to the actual author (that is, papers really done by women but with a male name on them, still rated as better quality) — and this effect disappeared when the names were redacted entirely and the papers rated with author completely unknown. In that last circumstance, paper quality by male and female authors came out generally equal.

    Unfortunately I’ve lost track of the cite for that study. Am trying to find it again.

  15. #15 bsci
    January 22, 2008

    I find the referenced paper very weak. They try to call going to double-blinded reviewing an exogenous variable, but it is probably not isolated. Were other variables, such as the university of origin or the fame of the author bigger factors? There are currently more famous male faculty and more male science faculty at top schools (this is bad and should change, but it’s also currently true). Thus if authors are biased towards accepting a paper from a author at a top school, it would create a gender effect that would have nothing to do with the gender guess of the authors’ names. Add in the fact that during those years more women have entered science means that some of the effect is probably do to more women submitting.

    A superior paper could be made from any journal that was willing to open it’s review files. Make a list of all SUBMITTED papers. For each paper, collect the authors’ genders, university affiliations, and senior author h-score (a rough marker for fame). With a little bit of extra work, one could date the first paper of the senior author to get a rough seniority measure. Does gender have a greater effect than these other factors on whether a paper is accepted?

  16. #16 Blake Stacey
    January 22, 2008

    BaldApe:

    It seems that scientists would understand the importance of the Sydney Glutz test. (in science fiction, if the author were Sydney Glutz rather than Asimov or Clarke, would they get published?)

    As a young man, Asimov was told that he might have to publish under a pseudonym, because editors would be wary of a Jewish first name coupled with a Slavic last name.

    I second the remarks of Bob O’H and bsci: this is an important topic, and so I want to see better statistics on it.

  17. #17 YSTH
    January 22, 2008

    FYI- When I first found Science Blogs, yours was the first I clicked on. The name of it intrigued me. Still here. Keep up the good work!

  18. #18 Christopher
    January 22, 2008

    Others have alluded to this, but I’ll make the point a bit more strongly. A practical difficulty with hiding the identity of the authors from the reviewers is that a paper is rarely a one-shot article published in isolation. It will often reference earlier articles by the same group, when using the same apparatus or technique that was reported earlier but on new samples. In that case, the reference list is more than a clue to the authors’ identities, it is a direct pointer to them.

    It would be interesting to analyze the publication pattern from graduate students working on a high energy physics experiment. While the equipment will be well-known and cannot be reasonably hidden from the reviewer there is typically of team of some 200 people, half of them graduate students. A graduate paper might have three names on it, and the names would hold only the first initial and last name. It’s unrealistic to think that an external reviewer would be able to deduce the sex of the authors from that.

    Or, for papers published in North America, to look at the publication pattern of people with Chinese or Korean names. Such names, when rendered in the Roman alphabet, almost always lose the information about the sex of the possessor of that name, so unless the reviewer has personal knowledge of the people working in the lab, they have no clues to trigger any biases they may possess.

  19. #19 OneRandomScientist
    January 22, 2008

    Around 4-5 years ago, I saw a paper which looked at how highly academic papers were rated for quality.

    I spent a good hour looking for that exact paper for a blog post I wrote on this topic this weekend. Please let me know if you find it :)

  20. #20 Vomer O'Nasal
    January 22, 2008

    While at the Science Blogging Conference in NC this past weekend, I had occasion to speak with an editor of The Scientist knowledgeable about the “reader’s favorite blogs-gate” affair. The editor asserted that The Scientist polled both female and male readers- only men bothered to respond, however. This still fails to answer the question of why only male-written blogs were favorites (female-written blogs comprise most of my daily blog reading), but does take a bit of the edge off of the accusation that The Scientist is openly hostile to women.

  21. #21 "GrrlScientist"
    January 22, 2008

    jeff: thank you. incidentally, i will be visiting manhattan KS during the last week of march .. perhaps you and your wife are available for socializing over beers?

    bald ape: heh!

    christopher taylor, peggy: the researchers did acknowledge that there is bias for the big names in science and against new scientists, but they only mentioned this because this was not what their study was focused on examining.

    bill: indeed, gender-neutral names were essentially removed from the analysis.

    joshua: i think the scientist was obligated to tell the audience that they asked women who write life science blogs but none responded. on the other hand, they certainly didn’t ask any of the female sciencebloggers, which is odd, in my opinion.

    agnostic: i am not sure i follow your argument since you basically are saying that women are either just as biased or more biased against other women than are men. and for what it’s worth, i think men want to dominate everyone, not just other men.

    bob: if you write about this, you’ll have to let me know.

    noonathome: Saya bahagia melihat anda di sini! Semoga sukses dengan anda blog.

    YSTH: thanks! i appreciate my readers.

    vomer: the editor did reply to my original blog entry in the comments section, so my readers are aware of the origin of this gender discrepancy.

  22. #22 D Jackson PhD
    January 22, 2008

    Survey says….BUZZZZ!!!

    The inherent problem in the analysis: there is no presentation of the # of papers submitted for review on a gender basis!!! Moreover, it also lacks additional credibility based on the lack of gender statistics of publishing investigators in this field.

    While I do not disagree that there are biases in the review process, it is not clear (at least by this analysis) that it is solely based on gender.

    Related to this, the US Department of Labor released data in 2007 documenting that women spend 11.4 days per year more than men out of the office. While that doesn’t absolutely say anything other than what it says, there is something to be inferred – that women also produce less than men. Considering that there are only 250 working days in the regular 9-5 world’s calendar year, it should come as no surprise to anyone that there is a difference in the way we (women, yes I am female) are treated economically.

    The bottom line is that we shouldn’t sit around beefing about this because, just as in kvetching about racial biases does, this only enhances the not-too-wrong stereotype of the oppressed whining instead of just working harder.

    Ugh…to junk science and lying with statistics.

  23. #23 Blake Stacey
    January 22, 2008

    I just killed half an hour playing with a computer model of the science blogosphere. Suppose, as a first approximation of blogger behavior, that new arrivals on the scene link to established blogs, giving preference to the ones which already have more connections (a blogger just getting started is more likely to put Pharyngula on their blogroll than my site, for example — the rich get richer). Then, let’s say that the overall gender ratio among science enthusiasts is some number f, so that the probability that a new blogger joining the network happens to be female is f. Gender inequalities in academia will make f < 0.5, but we can be idealistic for the moment and postulate that bloggers are just as likely to link to a male “node” as to a female one — the attachment process is gender-blind. This might not be true, but my hunch would be that it’s more true for the blogosphere than for the scientific journals.

    If you add the postulate that women join the network slightly later than men — even if you just say that the first fifty bloggers are men, and all the next 950 can be both men and women — it turns out that women will be systematically under-represented in any “Top N” list of bloggers!

    Preferential attachment penalizes late arrivals, even when the individual blogger has no personal gender bias.

    Again, this is just a toy model, which may or may not be realistic in different respects.

  24. #24 Blake Stacey
    January 22, 2008

    Oh, crap. A less-than sign screwed up my first paragraph. This is how I intended it to go:

    Gender inequalities in academia will make f < 0.5, but we can be idealistic for the moment and postulate that for bloggers, the attachment process is gender-blind, and only the popularity of the blog matters. This may or may not be true, but I have a hunch it’s more true for the blogosphere than for the scientific journals. Anyway, it’s important to see in which part of the process the inequality lies.

  25. #25 ChemGrrrrrl
    January 22, 2008

    Don’t dis agnostic just because she doesn’t agree with you! Rrowrrr!

    As an author and reviewer, I know that first authorship is practically irrelevant to the success of a manuscript or grant. Many times the LAST author is the professor and the first author is just a student, so reviewers don’t pay attention to the first name. Maybe the study should have controlled for this? They should have based their results on the corresponding author, perhaps? What about controlling for prestige of institution, or gender of the reviewer? What about other conflicts of interest – such as financial or research competitors? Although I’ve never seen a paper or grant rejected based on the gender of the author, I have seen good results/grant rejected because of prestige or conflict issues. I’ve also seen horrible papers and grants accepted for the same reasons, but never for gender.

    In fact the only discrimination I’ve witnessed was in graduate school and in favor of women – when a tenured female faculty secretly offered copies of one of the placement exams to only the women and not the men! I guess she thought that she was fighting “gender inequality” but I turned it down anyway. Science is supposed to be objective after all…

  26. #26 Peggy
    January 22, 2008

    Just a couple of links people might find interesting:

    The paper came out of the EcoBias project, which is an “NCEAS working group of ecologists interested in exploring factors which influence the publication of articles in ecology.” I’m thinking there will be a follow-up study.

    As for the study that showed that papers with male author names were scored better than the same papers with female author names, could it be this 1999 study by Steinpreis et al. (pdf) on gender and evaluation of job candidates’ CVs?

  27. #27 bsci
    January 22, 2008

    D Jackson PhD, I posted a detailed criticism above of the paper. They present some data that might be evidence of a bias which needs to proven or contradicted by additional studies. Just because a paper isn’t the final word on a topic isn’t a reason to call the entire study wrong.

    Still do you really believe that 11 fewer days work would make these differences? If you want a better examination of academic work hours, look at Figure 7 in:
    http://ucfamilyedge.berkeley.edu/babies%20matterII.pdf

    Female faculty in the University of California average 51.2 hours of professional work per week while mean with children average 55.6. Without children women average 59.8 and men average 59.1 (i.e. men work less). The same figures also show than women with children spend 35.5 hours per week caregiving and men spend 20.3. If you’re basing the reason for women succeeding on professional hours working, the solution is fairly obvious.

  28. #28 agnostic
    January 22, 2008

    Don’t dis agnostic just because she doesn’t agree with you! Rrowrrr!

    I may use lots of first-person-singular pronouns like a girl, and I may have large dreamy eyes and full lips like a girl, but I assure I am male.

    not sure i follow your argument

    If women are just as or more biased against women than are men, it makes sense to ask what’s the sex make-up of the reviewers / referees / editors? Suppose that it was all-female — then no sexism. What I’m doubting is that the percentage changes reflect elimination of sexism rather than something else.

    For all I know, DB allowed female judges to stop targeting their same-sex competition so much, increasing the female percentage, and allowing the female judges to take better aim at male submitters (who they may have cared less about before), decreasing the male percentage.

    Men may want to dominate everyone, but because we tend to make up a majority of all important fields, almost all of our time will be spent competing against each other. A guy who is primarily competing against women — and who would therefore have an interest in misogyny, sexism, etc. — necessarily works in a loser field. Social work, say (I mean “loser” in the sense of little power / authority). But the men there are typically feminist liberal men.

  29. #29 agnostic
    January 22, 2008

    OK, I just got access to the paper — it says nothing about the sex of the judges, referees, reviewers, etc., so no inference can be drawn about sexism.

    Here’s the study I referred to, which found both sexes being fair to applicants for tenured positions, but both sexes favoring males for entry-level positions:
    http://www.case.edu/president/aaction/ImpactofGender.pdf

  30. #30 anon.
    January 22, 2008

    It really doesn’t matter what the studies show. We hold research to the double blind standard because we don’t know what effect knowledge has on subjects or on experimenters dealing with subjects. Why in the world should the peer review process (for grant money too) be any different? Why are scientists so special that we should be exempted from the very standards we promote?

    For those worried about a conflict of interest, you will never know if you have a conflict of interest or not. I’ve had other researchers duplicate my own research enough to know that you don’t always know who is doing what.

    That alone is argument enough for the double-blind review process regardless of whatever any study ever shows. And seriously folks, how hard can it be? Most of us do it all of the time.

  31. #31 Lab Lemming
    January 22, 2008

    Comments like, “It’s unrealistic to think that an external reviewer would be able to deduce the sex of the authors from that.” ignore the social nature of science. When reviewers get a paper, they will generally be selected to do peer review based on the knowledge of the particular sub-field. So chances are pretty good that they know who the authors are from conferences. In fact, a lot of the time the contents of the paper are the more rigorous treatment of the results presented in person at the previous year’s conference. So trying to hide identification behind initials or pseudonymity is difficult.

  32. #32 Bob O'H
    January 23, 2008

    OK, I’ve put up my thoughts. The bottom line – we need more data. Does anyone know of any other journals that switched to double blinding? And would anyone like to spend some time sexing papers?

    Or are you all going to the beer festival in Espoo instead?

    Bob

  33. #33 Barn Owl
    January 23, 2008

    My field is not behavioral ecology (nor behavior, nor ecology), but it is definitely “life sciences” (and more traditionally male-dominated). I don’t have any reason to suspect that my research has been rejected for publication, or treated any differently, because I’m female, regardless of my position in the list of authors (first, middle, or senior). My name is typically female, and in any case the mouse models I’ve generated would be recognized by likely reviewers. Gender bias in peer-reviewed publication, whether top-tier or middle-tier journals, is just not something that keeps me awake at night (though finishing those last experiments and statistical analyses required for a good publication *is*).

    Regarding the science-blogging, I tend to prefer those ScienceBlogs that feature lots of photographs of and information about animals and environmental issues. Usually that means this blog (lots of nice photos, and posts about birds), and ones like Deep Sea News, Tetrapod Zoology, Laelaps. It just so happens that the latter three are written by men, but that was not a factor in my preferences. I also like the medical blogs, and it just so happens that most of those are written by men as well. Only one of those blogs appears in “Most Active” with any regularity, but I think that reflects the fact that many commenters would rather discuss/argue about politics, entertainment, and sociological issues, than about science, medicine, and the environment.

  34. #34 David Harmon
    January 23, 2008

    Perhaps it’s time to found a James Tiptree Jr. Memorial Lab for Pseudonymous Publication? ;-)

  35. #35 PAG
    January 24, 2008

    Data on mechanisms of sexism exist. See V. Valian Why so slow?: The Advancement of Women. MIT Press. Cambridge and London (1999).

    Also, see Wenneras, C. and A. Wold. 1997. Nepotism and sexism in peer-review. Nature 387:341-43.

    The BE study is just one.

  36. #36 chorth
    January 28, 2008

    The National Academy of Sciences has published a number of reports on this topic. Here’s the executive summary of Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering (2007).

    http://www.nap.edu/nap-cgi/execsumm.cgi?record_id=11741

  37. #37 Luna_the_cat
    January 28, 2008

    Michele A. Paludi and William Bauer (Mar 1983) “Goldberg revisited: What’s in an author’s name” Sex Roles Vol.9 Num. 3 pp.387-390, abstract available at http://www.springerlink.com/content/n45426751g104902/
    and, repeated study,
    Michele A. Paludi and Lisa A. Strayer (Feb 1985) “What’s in an author’s name? Differential evaluations of performance as a function of author’s name” Sex Roles Vol.12 Num.3-4 pp.353-361, abstract available at http://www.springerlink.com/content/t5347p67655q2652/.

    Referenced by Sandler & Hall (1986) “The Campus Climate Revisited: Chilly for Women Faculty, Administrators, and Graduate Students.”:

    In one study, first done in 1968 and then replicated in 1983, college students were asked to rate identical articles to specific criteria. The authors’ names attached to the articles were clearly male or female, but were reversed for each group of raters: what one group thought had been written by a male, the second group thought had been written by a female, and vice versa. Articles supposedly written by women were consistently ranked lower than when the very same articles were thought to have been written by a male. In a similar study, department chairs were asked to make hypothetical hiring decisions and to assign faculty rank on the basis of vitae. For vitae with male names, chairs recommended the rank of associate professor; however, the identical vita with a female name merited only the rank of assistant professor. These and many other studies show that in academe as in other settings the same professional accomplishments are seen as superior in quality and worthy of higher rewards when attributed to men than when they are attributed to women.

    That was 22 years ago, and I think it’s better now than it was, but the effect hasn’t disappeared entirely. See Wenneras and Wold 1997 paper already mentioned, as well as Brouns (2000) “The Gendered Nature of Assessment Procedures in Scientic Research Funding: The Dutch Case” at http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/713669261 and Jagsi et al. (2006) “The “Gender Gap” in Authorship of Academic Medical Literature — A 35-Year Perspective” at http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/abstract/355/3/281 .

  38. #38 msn
    June 25, 2008

    thanx forIn one study, first done in 1968 and then replicated in 1983, college students were asked to rate identical articles to specific criteria. The authors’ names attached to the articles were clearly male or female, but were reversed for each group of raters: what one group thought had been written by a male, the second group thought had been written by a female, and vice versa. Articles supposedly written by women were consistently ranked lower than when the very same articles were thought to have been written by a male. In a similar study, department chairs were asked to make hypothetical hiring decisions and to assign faculty rank on the basis of vitae. For vitae with male names, chairs recommended the rank of associate professor; however, the identical vita with a female name merited only the rank of assistant professor.

  39. #39 christina
    July 22, 2008

    Really interesting, “women do science differently from men” thats a shocking statement! different in some way perhaps i suppose, but unlikely to be in a negative way.

  40. #40 bet
    November 5, 2008

    In one study, first done in 1968 and then replicated in 1983, college students were asked to rate identical articles to specific criteria. The authors’ names attached to the articles were clearly male or female, but were reversed for each group of raters: what one group thought had been written by a male, the second group thought had been written by a female, and vice versa. Articles supposedly written by women were consistently ranked lower than when the very same articles were thought to have been written by a male. In a similar study, department chairs were asked to make hypothetical hiring decisions and to assign faculty rank on the basis of vitae. For vitae with male names, chairs recommended the rank of associate professor; however, the identical vita with a female name merited only the rank of assistant professor. These and many other studies show that in academe as in other settings the same professional accomplishments are seen as superior in quality and worthy of higher rewards when attributed to men than when they are attributed to women.

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