"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Thursday, December 28, 2017

Women have a hiring advantage in the scientific stratosphere

Women have a hiring advantage in the scientific stratosphere

"The peer-reviewed article, “National hiring experiments reveal 2:1 faculty preference for women on STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] tenure track,” by psychologists Wendy Williams and Stephen Ceci of Cornell University, got so many mentions from news reporters, bloggers, Facebookers, and Tweeters that it ranks “amongst the highest ever scored” for the prestigious journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)—ranked No. “14 out of 33,942” as of 29 April—according to altmetrics, which tracks social media mentions of scientific papers. Some of that attention has been positive—but much of it has been not only negative but also unpleasantly personal. “We’ve had such amazing attacks. They really, really hate us”...

Even if an employer holds implicit gender stereotypes, bias does not necessarily control hiring decisions when objective information about performance is available...

A large body of other research also finds a female advantage in faculty hiring, Ceci notes. “We looked at eight [faculty] hiring audits [examining] who applies and who gets hired and … all eight … showed that although fewer women than men apply for STEM jobs, those who do apply are hired at a higher rate,” he says in the interview. “In real-world hiring of tenure-track applicants in STEM fields in the United States and Canada … [t]here is a female advantage in all large-scale studies dating back to the 1980s”... “actual hiring analyses may underestimate the strength of female preference” because they count only who took a job, not the number of offers that applicants received.

A meta-analysis of 136 studies of gender in hiring published in January in the Journal of Applied Psychology also failed to find bias when “information clearly indicated high competence of those being evaluated.”...

“The outpouring of vitriol [shows, however,] that there are a lot of people who don’t want to acknowledge the data,” she continues. “It’s not like they’re willing to acknowledge it and discuss it. … They try to say that we had an agenda or that the entire method at its root was completely flawed.” Many of their detractors, she adds, falsely characterize their work and its conclusions and then attack “straw men.” This opposition, she believes, is emotional rather than scholarly.

The venom may arise because some people are deeply invested in a narrative of persistent and pervasive bias against women in academic science, perhaps because of ideological beliefs in the ubiquity of gender discrimination. Some people may be attempting to salve their disappointment at a job market that keeps thousands of well-qualified people from having the careers they want and worked for. “It’s tempting to blame gender when you don't get a job and you’re a woman,” Williams says. “It’s easier … than to admit that the entire premise of what you've done for the past 7 years of your life was flawed at the root.”...

Some detractors may be protecting established careers, such as scholars and writers who built their reputations on describing discrimination that Williams and Ceci’s data suggest has faded at the point of hiring. Some may be part of universities’ substantial antibias administrative and training apparatus, which, like every part of today’s financially stressed institutions, is under pressure.

Williams says she and Ceci will soon publish data showing “some challenges for women in some areas” of academic science. “People will embrace that,” she predicts. In the meantime, people “acting as though the [current] study is worthless because it came out in a way that you personally don’t like—that’s not science,” she says. “That’s religion.” Or, as Hillary Clinton might put it, that’s gender politics...

A recent book, Galileo's Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and the Search for Justice in Science, and other writings by Northwestern University historian of science and medicine Alice Dreger, examine the phenomenon of ad hominem against scientists whose data violates critics’ ideological agendas. As she notes, topics touching on sex or gender often set off the anger. “While it is true that you can also tick people off by making challenging scientific claims about alien abductions, chronic Lyme disease, or race—especially race—the surest route to having your reputation threatened is to contradict some deeply held belief about sex”...

William H. Casey, professor of chemistry at the University of California (UC), Davis, and former chair of the UC Davis Committee on Academic Personnel, which, in his words, “handles all hiring, merit advancements, and promotions (tenure)” at the university, sent Williams and Ceci calculations based on university information on 5 years of hiring at UC Davis. (“WF,” by the way, stands for “workforce availability”—roughly, the representation of women in a particular field.) Casey wrote to Williams and Ceci that these figures are “perfectly consistent with the hypotheses of your last papers. For Math and Physical Sciences, for example, women were 15.2% of the applicant pool, 31.4% of the short list invited for an interview, and 26.7% of the faculty actually hired.”"


Amusingly, critics accused them of gaslighting. I guess lived experience is superior to objective data.
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