Women, prizes in science, and the impact of implicit bias

Over at Dynamic Ecology, Megan Duffy wrote yesterday a post entitled When a Series of Entirely Reasonable Decisions Leads To Biased Outcomes.

4 thoughts on “Women, prizes in science, and the impact of implicit bias

  1. There is a lot of work being done on this by nonscientists, specifically in STS / sociology of science. I recently read Social Studies of Science 2012 42: 307 “The Matilda Effect in Science: Awards and prizes in the US, 1990s and 2000s” and HIGHLY recommend it

  2. choice quote from that pub about implicit biases: “In 2001, the journal Behavioral Ecology switched … to a double-blind process … Consequently, the implementation of the new editorial policies provided a natural experiment to test the effects of knowing the author’s identity on reviewers’ judgments. Budden et al. (2008) attributed the subsequent 7.9% jump in manuscript acceptance rate of articles first-authored by women directly to the change in review policies.” from Lincoln et al. 2012 Social Studies of Science 2012 42: 307 “The Matilda Effect in Science: Awards and prizes in the US, 1990s and 2000s”

    • mmmm thanks for this SquirrelyRed – I wrote my comment below about anonymity before I saw yours. I can’t understand these things NOT being anonymous, and not just because of gender bias but bcs of any type of bias. I know it also applies in fields such as auditions for orchestras – when the applicants sit behind a screen, they employ more women than if they see the faces.

  3. Yes, i echo scitrigrrl and suggest you read the article and comments – I particularly liked the stats analysis.

    I would never be in favour of two gender-specific awards in a major prize like this one because it would end up degrading the women’s prize even more, leading to comments like this: “well, she only won the WOMEN’S prize, not the real prize”. It also adds to imposter syndrome where *some* women may not think they are ever capable of competing with the men at the same level, only at some undefined lower level.

    If there are funds for two prizes, i think it would be better to have two categories – like the Nobels – maybe physical and biological sciences or something like that – just a suggestion.

    I am still in favour of prizes for women only, they have a place in encouraging women to apply for SOMETHING – but not dual prizes for the same thing.

    Of course, as with all such things (including refereeing for publications) if the initial vetting were to be anonymous, or only initials used and not names, then there could not be any perceived gender bias in the selection. The dearth of nominations is a different issue.

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