Gender research overdoes it —

And therefore: Do real research instead!

In the past years, the literature on gender biases in science is ever-growing. However, does that lead to any change in the science community? To address the bias, first, a mind change must happen that biases exist before they can be addressed. A study tries to test how evidence on gender bias is perceived: Male faculty active in STEM seems to be less favorable assessing experimental research showing gender bias.

Handley, I. M., Brown, E. R., Moss-Racusin, C. A., & Smith, J. L. (2015). Quality of evidence revealing subtle gender biases in science is in the eye of the beholder. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(43), 13201-13206.

U.S. study with three randomized, double-blind experiments—two involving samples from the general public (n = 205 and 303, respectively) and one involving a sample of university faculty (n = 205)—testing how respective the scientific and pubic communities are to experimental evidence demonstrating a gender bias. The growing empirical evidence documents a gender bias against women and their research—and favoring men—in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Results demonstrate that men evaluate the quality of research unveiling this bias as less meritorious than do women. In all experiments, participants read an actual journal abstract reporting gender bias in a STEM context (or an altered abstract reporting no gender bias in experiment 3) and evaluated the overall quality of the research. Results across experiments showed that men evaluate the gender-bias research less favorably than women, and, of concern, this gender difference was especially prominent among STEM faculty (experiment 2). These results suggest a relative reluctance among men, especially faculty men within STEM, to accept evidence of gender biases in STEM. The authors conclude that this finding is problematic because broadening the participation of underrepresented people in STEM, including women, necessarily requires a widespread willingness (particularly by those in the majority) to acknowledge that bias exists before transformation is possible.

Murrar, S., Johnson, P. A., Lee, Y. G., & Carnes, M. (2021). Research Conducted in Women Was Deemed More Impactful but Less Publishable than the Same Research Conducted in Men. Journal of Women's Health.

US experimental study with n=358 participants. Female scientists, who are more likely than their male counterparts to study women and reportfindings by sex/gender, fare worse in the article peer review process. It is unknown whether the gender ofresearch participants influences the recommendation to publish an article describing the study. Reviewers were randomly assigned to evaluate one of three versions of an article abstract describing a clinical study conducted in men, women, or individuals. Reviewers assessed the study’s scientific rigor, its level of contribution to medical science, and whether they would recommend publishing the full article. Responses were analyzed with logistic regression controlling for reviewer background variables, including sex and experience level. There was no significant difference in perceived research rigor by abstract condition; contribution to medical science was perceived to be greater for research conducted in women than men (odds ratio=1.7;p=0.030). Nevertheless, reviewers were almost twice as likely to recommend publication for research conducted in men than the same research conducted in women (predicted probability 0.606 vs. 0.322;p=0.000). These results are consistent with abundant data from multiple sources showing a lower societalvalue placed on women than men. Because female investigators are more likely than male investigators to study women, our findings suggest a previously unrecognized bias that could contribute to gender asymmetries in the publication outcomes of peer review. This pro-male publication bias could be an additional barrier to leadership attainment for women in academic medicine and the advancement of women’s health.