The Persistence of Gender Bias

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I think someone teased this study in the post on gamers over the weekend, but researchers at Yale sought to evaluate whether gender discrimination had any effect on hiring in the sciences. I wish I could tell you I was surprised by the results:


[T]he report found, the professors were less likely to offer the women mentoring or a job. And even if they were willing to offer a job, the salary was lower. The bias was pervasive, the scientists said, and probably reflected subconscious cultural influences rather than overt or deliberate discrimination. 

Female professors were just as biased against women students as their male colleagues, and biology professors just as biased as physics professors -- even though more than half of biology majors are women, whereas men far outnumber women in physics. 

"I think we were all just a little bit surprised at how powerful the results were -- that not only do the faculty in biology, chemistry and physics express these biases quite clearly, but the significance and strength of the results was really quite striking," said Jo Handelsman, a professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology at Yale.

I don't know. I think we have this tendency to overrate our powers of reason, and underrate the lizard-brain. We have an even greater tendency to underrate the power of culture and socialization among the elite. (Cultural pathology is a phrase reserved for the barbarian poor.) 

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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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