Gender Bias in Researcher-to-Researcher Communication

Sadly, female researchers appear to have systematic bias against female researchers.

... an Ohio State University study found that graduate students rated research abstracts as having greater “scientific quality” when they thought the abstracts were written by men.

... the study participants were all graduate students in communication research programs, and the abstracts they were reviewing were all of communication research.

Researchers began with a collection of abstracts, and divided them into “types” according to whether the subject matter covered topics normally associated with male, female or gender-neutral norms. Abstracts the researchers listed as “female-typed” often dealt with children or gender issues; “male-typed” abstracts included political issues; and gender-neutral abstracts looked at health-related issues. The researchers then created a list of fictional author names that were clearly identifiable as male or female (e.g., Gary or Lisa).

The researchers then sent a collection of abstracts to the study participants: 243 graduate students from 20 different institutions across the United States, of whom 70 percent were female.

The researchers found that not only were male authors associated with greater scientific quality, but that “the contributions from male authors were perceived as having particularly high scientific quality if they pertained to male-typed topics.” In fact, the abstracts with the highest ratings of scientific quality were those on male-typed topics that were associated with male authors.

The lowest ratings of perceived scientific quality went to abstracts where there was a disconnect between the sex of the author and the “type” of research. Female authors of abstracts focusing on male-typed research scored lowest, and male authors of abstracts on female-typed research did only slightly better.

When study participants were also asked to rate their interest in collaborating with the abstract authors, the results were similar. The highest rates of interest in collaboration were for male authors whose abstracts addressed male-typed research issues, followed by female authors whose abstracts addressed female-typed research issues. [emphasis mine]

And we wonder why women researchers "get no respect"!

Tags: gender bias

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Replies to This Discussion

Firstly, it isn't gender bias, it's sexual bias... we are not a gender, we are Homo sapiens of female reproductive systems. There is no biological justification for "gender". And yes, sexual bias has been well documented in all fields of science. Being born with a female reproductive system is still a major impediment to our career plans, unless we want to be nurses, secretaries, waitresses.

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