New Study Undermines Supposed Sexism In STEM Hiring

By Published on April 14, 2015

A new study by two Cornell professors suggests faculty in several different STEM fields actually favor women by a more than 2-to-1 margin over identically-qualified men.

The belief that women face substantial discrimination when trying to enter scientific fields is an article of faith for the American left.

Professors Wendy Williams and Stephen Cici published their study on Monday as part of their work for the Cornell Institute for Women in Science. The pair created a lengthy set of fictional job-seekers in four fields: Biology, economics, psychology and engineering. Many of the fictional profiles were pairs, with identical resumes differing only in being either male or female. They sent slates of job candidates to more than 800 faculty members at 371 colleges in all 50 states, asking them to rank them in order of hiring preference.

“What we found shocked us,” the two wrote for CNN in a piece accompanying the study’s publication. “Women had an overall 2-to-1 advantage in being ranked first for the job in all fields studied. This preference for women was expressed equally by male and female faculty members, with the single exception of male economists, who were gender neutral in their preferences.”

If women have such an advantage in hiring, why are most STEM professors still men? That, the authors say, is simply a matter of far more men choosing to get degrees in STEM fields in the first place.

The study doesn’t entirely eliminate the idea of sexism in STEM. Women could perhaps face hostility while working towards their degrees, or while in the working world. However, one key area of alleged sexism appears to be illusory.

“While women may encounter sexism before and during graduate training and after becoming professors, the only sexism they face in the hiring process is bias in their favor,” say Williams and Cici.

Interestingly, the study also found differences between male and female professors in how they evaluate individual’s lifestyles. Female professors, for example, tended to prefer hiring a divorced mother over a still-married father, while male professors showed the opposite inclination. Male professors also looked more favorably on mothers whose profiles said they took a lengthy period of parental leave after having a baby, while female professors didn’t have any preference for those who took leave.

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