About us

Let's start with a little warning: We are both not researchers in gender discrimination. We are working at a university and deal with equal opportunities on a daily basis. The increase in research on gender discrimination and equal opportunities in academia in the last years is absolutely remarkable and fascinates us again and again.

However, we do feel that there is an information asymmetry between the researchers in the field and the practitioners.

Sitting in faculty hiring committees or working in the office for diversity and equal opportunities, we hear a lot of stereotypes and prejudices about female applicants for academic jobs, abilities of women up for promotion, or when female candidates are discussed for executive positions.

Case in point are decisions made by academic hiring committees. Regularly, members of those committees insist that academic hires are based on fair and objective criteria and that the qualifications of female candidates are "unfortunately" just often inferior to male candidates. That's given as a reason why the number of women in academia increases so slowly, and in particular why the latest hire was a male candidate, too. We doubt this is true when looking at the research on whether women are assessed fairly and objectively.

Examples of prejudices about women in academia are probably countless and we have tried to review the ones we are most often confronted with — and see what recent research can tell us about them.

Why do we focus so much on research? Probably, because academia seems to be receptive to research findings. Discussing those statements often drifted into an exchange of anecdotal evidence and was not more than an exchange of opinions rather than facts. However, during those discussions giving facts based on research was - in our experience - a successful strategy: it made people listen, it made people think and sometimes people even reconsidered their positions.

So, to support people being confronted with gender stereotypes and prejudice in academia, we compiled this summary of recent research. When you hear any of the reviewed statements, you might have a line of argument ready, on how to reply - based on research.

Going on from there, often the discussions drift to the question: What to do about gender discrimination. To inform those discussions, we added the section "What Works" on the research findings that might mitigate the gender bias.

Anna Goeddeke

Professor of Microeconomics at ESB Business School; Reutlingen University


Twitter: @AnnaGoeddeke

Dr. Louisa Söllner

Office for diversity and equal opportunities at Reutlingen University