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Cornell Researchers Debunk Claims That “Female Scientists in Academia are Victims of Sexism”

Cornell Researchers Debunk Claims That “Female Scientists in Academia are Victims of Sexism”

“women are actually at parity with men in journal publishing, peer review, and grant-getting. And for hiring, women have a substantial advantage over men….”

Stephen J. Ceci of the psychology department at Cornell, with his associates Shulamit Kahn and Wendy M. Williams, have looked at reports of gender bias in academic science from 2000 to 2020.

Their findings are good news and contradict the common narrative.

Professor Ceci provided this statement to Legal Insurrection on the study:

Today, our 5-year project–an adversarial collaboration–was published as a 47,000 word target article (59 journal pages) in the prestigious journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest. (It is Open Access here.) Below is a brief description of our extensive analyses.

Our research responds to claims, in top science journals and major media, that female scientists in academia are victims of sexism. Many (if not most) educated readers believe that the lack of women in engineering, computer science, physics, and related disciplines is due to bias that makes it harder for women to be hired, get their work reviewed fairly, get published, get grants, have their teaching evaluated fairly, and be paid fairly.

My colleagues and I meta-analyzed the corpus of research in each of these areas, dating from 2000-2020. The good news is that women are actually at parity with men in journal publishing, peer review, and grant-getting. And for hiring, women have a substantial advantage over men and are more likely to be hired with equivalent records. However, for teaching ratings and salary, we found some bias; women get lower teaching ratings and less pay, although the salary gap is only about one-fifth of what is customarily reported in the media (around a 4% pay gap rather than the commonly touted “women only earn 82 cents for every dollar that men earn”.

What’s important and remarkable about these findings is that they show that women overall enjoy gender fairness in most areas of academic science. The former salary gap has been reduced by about 80% (to around 4%), and can be further addressed by salary reviews initiated by institutions. (The substantial resources now directed toward achieving gender-fairness in hiring—with most universities mandating anti-bias training—can be redirected toward reducing gender salary gaps, for example.) Bias in teaching ratings can be addressed by augmenting the use of subjective assessments by students with objective measures of actual learning.

These findings mean that the academy now offers a largely gender-fair (and in some areas, female-advantaged) environment, and the constant doom-and-gloom portrayals, which ironically could discourage many young women from becoming scientists, are no longer valid. More women might become scientists if they knew that the job was not riddled with sexism and if they appreciated that their chances of being hired are substantially greater than those of men with comparable. Accomplishments. Our country desperately needs the contributions of talented women scientists. Happily, the realities of today no longer support the belief that these jobs are pervasively biased against women. In our view, this message is worth spreading because it runs counter to the dominant narrative in our universities and our society more generally.

The study is exhaustive, and you can read the whole thing here.

Here are a couple of noteworthy excerpts:

The vast majority of findings—from (a) synthetic cohort analysis, (b) institutional hiring records, and (c) experiments—indicate that women are less likely than men to apply for tenure-track jobs, but when they do apply, they receive offers at an equal or higher rate than men do. Even though these three sources of evidence cannot be meta-analyzed, their findings, and those in powerful new experiments,8 point in the same direction and are not consistent with claims of widespread bias against hiring women for tenure-track jobs. These conclusions extended to studies discussed here from the 1990s. However, there are no experimental studies of academic hiring between 1960 and 1990. Evidence from outside academia, including Schaerer et al.’s (2022) meta-analysis, suggests decreasing gender bias in hiring from 1976 to 2009; similarly, Birkelund et al.’s (2022) harmonized, cross-national callback analysis shows no discrimination against women in six countries differing along institutional, cultural, and economic dimensions.9
None of this means that women do not face very real barriers in completing their doctoral and postdoctoral training and segueing to tenure-track careers. For example, women are more likely than men to give up their initial aspirations to become tenure-track professors while in graduate school, a finding primarily true of women with children or contemplating children. Undoubtedly, broad systemic factors are partly responsible, along with biological factors, for these women not applying for tenure-track positions. But the data do show that the reason women do not occupy a larger fraction of tenure-track positions is not because of a discriminatory tenure-track hiring process, as many researchers have alleged.

Inconsistent evidence of gender bias

Although there is no prima facie evidence of pervasive gender bias, there may be bias in specific fields, at specific times, and/or in specific journals. For instance, Berg (2017) analyzed acceptance rates of articles submitted to Science. He studied a sample of 2,650 accepted manuscripts in 2015 and a similarly sized not-accepted sample. He found no significant gender differences for either, with numerically higher acceptance rates for junior first-author women and lower rates for senior women. Berg and his team have since analyzed a larger set of 66,057 articles published in Science between 2010 and 2017 (Berg, 2019) but to date have published only results for the category termed “Reports.” As in their 2015 sample, there were no significant gender differences in acceptances over the period from 2010 to 2017 for either “first author” or “corresponding author.” Year to year and across fields, both genders’ advantages in acceptance rates fluctuate. However, there are some differences by field. First, in physical sciences, acceptance rates for male corresponding authors were higher than for women for the period from 2012 to 2016 (although Berg found the same acceptance rates for women and men before and after this period), whereas acceptance rates were equal for male and female first authors since 2013. The second difference is that in the life sciences, women’s acceptance rates were higher than men’s from 2016 to 2017 for both types of author.

Again, the research is extremely thorough, but if this is an area of interest for you, you’ll have lots of reading to do.


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If you have a STEM play for pay job, on weekends and holidays everybody who comes in to work for no pay is male.

healthguyfsu | April 28, 2023 at 9:20 am

To anyone not in a grievance industry, this would be good and welcome news.

    It sure would!

    Peabody in reply to healthguyfsu. | April 28, 2023 at 4:47 pm


    henrybowman in reply to healthguyfsu. | April 28, 2023 at 6:23 pm

    And yet the study still employs blatantly “grievance-industry” language.

    “More women might become scientists if they knew that the job was not riddled with sexism and if they appreciated that their chances of being hired are substantially greater than those of men with comparable accomplishments. Our country desperately needs the contributions of talented women scientists.”

    My experience is that more men than women become scientists not because The Man is keeping women down, but because women by and large have vastly less interest in the sciences. I’m not saying they’re not capable — they’re simply not interested.

    The study rejoices that women now have an artificially biased hiring advantage over men, because their contributions are desperately needed. The last phrase has neither intuitive nor proven veracity, and as for the first… how have the racial AA results worked out for us?

A fascinating post about this factual research, but I have it on good authority that ‘woman’ cannot be defined. Researchers must report to Detainment Camp 6 for immediate re-education.

2smartforlibs | April 28, 2023 at 9:57 am

It’s funny how the winners of life’s lottery always complain about how they are put upon while those they got around never have a voice.

lol. The salary gap does not exist in academia. Professors are a paid on a scale based on their rank (Full, Associate, etc.) and time in service. There are few rock-stars that get paid a lot, but those guys are kind of rare.

The fact that female teachers get lower rankings is probably because they’re just not as good.

I’ve had both female and male teachers/professors from Kindergarten all the way through graduate school. The best were men, the worst were also men.

But as a group, the men were better than the women. Especially in college, but even through K-12,

    healthguyfsu in reply to MosesZD. | April 28, 2023 at 10:09 am

    My observations from academia:

    Men are more likely to leave an impression, good or bad, than women. There are variances in both groups, but that is the trend.

    Women try too hard to be liked and create their own prison by worrying much more about how they will be perceived. I’ve had female colleagues tell me they won’t stand up to a student because they are afraid that they will be seen as a “bitch”.

    gonzotx in reply to MosesZD. | April 28, 2023 at 12:16 pm

    My best teacher was a 3rd grade elementary teacher, she made me believe in myself

    I also had an incredible male art professor, hispanic, his family was well educated, lots of phds, but they were also La Raza types, not him ,he was incredibly talented, but kind, open minded, in a good way, never argumentative or opinionated , supportive.

    We became friends and I miss him everyday. He had a place out in the Country, huge studio, I would go there frequently, especially before his yearly show, many of his family were artists and would sell their stuff too.

    This world is a lesser world without him. He was a true old fashioned liberal. I warned him about Obama. It’s when I got red pilled.

The pay gap isn’t real, not for govt employees. Each category of employee receives the pay/benefits we by policy for those positions. If you compare a tenured Prof to an Adjunct Facility member they won’t have the same rate of compensation b/c they aren’t in the same category and thus receive far different pay and benefits.

It seems to me the next horizon is to classify a woman’s decision to have children and become a stay at home Mom or work part time during early childhood years as itself evidence of structural bias and discrimination. There isn’t much left to wring out of the wash. Similar to the arguments about systemic racism which point to unseen events without a specific victim or a person doing the oppressing; it just ‘feels like it’ and so must exist according to the DEI/CRT world view.

Bias in teaching ratings can be addressed by augmenting the use of subjective assessments by students with objective measures of actual learning.

That’s not going to go the way they think.

    Virginia42 in reply to daniel_ream. | April 28, 2023 at 2:02 pm

    Students routinely use assessments to screw instructors (male or female) who didn’t give them the grade “they deserved.” Saw this a lot in grad school. Had it done to me as well when I expected people to actually study and write in correct English. What was I thinking?

    Dathurtz in reply to daniel_ream. | April 28, 2023 at 2:44 pm

    The only people who really reply in a meaningful way are the students who feel some type of animosity toward the professor.

    Applying some type of objective criterion is really difficult to do in a field with as many variables as education has. Primary and secondary schools have been trying it for a while now and haven’t even come close to a system that makes any kind of sense.

Diversity [dogma] (e.g. sexism), per chance rabid?

Fortunately, while feminists are numerous, masculinists are a minority, but trans/neo-females are progressive.

My sister was a rabid liberal

She only went to one women’s March however, in Florida with a pu$$y hat on

She died of ovarian cancer, I have her hat.

Always hated the hats, but it represented something to her. When women weee marching in the 60’s and 70’s, she was busy raising 2 boys as a single mom. Didn’t have time for marches.

Where are the pu$$y hats now when women are being destroyed by the trans ?

Too scared is my guess

I think I’m a feminist, but I won’t be silenced. I don’t care if you call me names/ def been called a few, even at places you wouldn’t think so, cough cough

Men don’t really understand what it was like to be a girl in the 50’s , 60’s. I was not allowed to take woodworking classes in jr high because I was told girls can’t and you will take sewing and cooking, which I did.

No way my parents would stand up for me, authority was to be unquestioned.

My HS counselor told me to get married , relax, have 2 drinks a day like his wife. I told him if I were his wife I’d be drinking a hell of a lot more.

Couldn’t open a checking account without “permission” lol

Had to wear skirts to school, not “uniform” by the way, and it was horrific winters in Wisconsin at that time.

If you worked, you were encouraged to be a waitress, nurse, teacher, librarian…

Title nine was a Godsend, women burning their bras was a statement

Then it all went sideways.

    Danny in reply to gonzotx. | April 28, 2023 at 1:22 pm

    The memory of a sister brother, father or mother especially, but family in general is sacrosanct and what you should remember is the good times and the things you liked about the person.

    What you keep from a sister or brother etc life is the memory you are choosing to cherish.

    I simply can’t fathom keeping the bad and evil time memories over the good ones. You didn’t like her woman’s march, didn’t like her politics……throw the hat away and print some pictures of the good times out.

    Politics is absolutely not everything.

    CommoChief in reply to gonzotx. | April 28, 2023 at 1:44 pm

    I think it is very true that we can’t understand especially for those of us born after the dark days you describe ended. Thank goodness those days are long gone and everyone can rise or fall on their own merits for the past 4-5 decades. Of course the pendulum has now swung way too far and many women have been convinced that men are the enemy and not their natural life companions and partners. Instead some of these women seem to resent and fear men. Maybe despise is a better word. .

    I taught my daughter to ride, shoot, drive a stick shift, use power tools and hand tools. She can build or repair to homeowner level competency. Took her camping and taught her to build a fire, make shelter, select a campsite, forage edible plants, set a snare, how to find her way with and without a map and compass.

    Taught her to manage a checkbook, basic value stock analysis, investing fundamentals, how the legal system works (and doesn’t). In short I taught her to be a competent functional adult with basic life skills while her mother handled the more traditional feminine role instruction though I did help with teaching cooking b/c I am pretty good at making biscuits from learning from my grandmother.

      Men, women, and our Posterity are from Earth. Feminists are from Venus. Masculinists are from Mars. Social progressives are from Uranus.

      Dathurtz in reply to CommoChief. | April 28, 2023 at 2:48 pm

      Yes. Every adult should be a functional adult with the basic skills that are needed to live a life. It’s crazy the number of people my age (30s) that don’t know how to do simple home repairs or figure out if they can afford something or what to do if they want to retire one day. How did their parents let that happen?

        CommoChief in reply to Dathurtz. | April 28, 2023 at 7:49 pm

        My Daughter tells me at least 3 or 4 times a year how surprised her friends are that she ‘knows how to do shit’ that they have no clue about. Most military families still raise competent adults as do families in rural areas. Probably some in the suburbs as well.

        I suppose if one rents an apartment and lives in a big city using public transport then they are less likely to have grown up learning how to make basic repairs to the home or change tires or whatever. Their Parents didn’t do those things b/c their building had ‘a guy’ or a prohibition on doing it and maybe they didn’t own a car. Different lifestyle entirely and far different learning environment of basic adult competencies for the kids to observe, participate in and enjoy.

    henrybowman in reply to gonzotx. | April 28, 2023 at 6:42 pm

    “Men don’t really understand what it was like to be a girl in the 50’s , 60’s. I was not allowed to take woodworking classes in jr high because I was told girls can’t and you will take sewing and cooking, which I did.”

    Or maybe we can. Trust me, the oppression wasn’t all one way.

    I personally wanted to take Typing. Hated History (now that I actively pursue it, I realize it was because it was taught so poorly), did a lot of personal typing at the time (all two-fingered), and it was a (so-called) “elective.” Was told in no uncertain terms that I was on the “professional track,” would “have a girl to do all my typing for me,” and I would be taking History. (Then spent a 50 year career typing crap into computers without ever having learned how to type “properly.”)

    The next year, I wanted to escape French IV by taking Mechanical Drawing. Was given the same bullshit speech about being on the “professional track.” I responded, “You bet I am! I intend to be a professional ENGINEER, so I’ll be taking Mechanical Drawing!” They caved on that one.

    Women talk like all discrimination is sex-linked. It’s not only not true, but even if it were, sex-linking goes both ways.

      MajorWood in reply to henrybowman. | May 1, 2023 at 2:43 pm

      As a typist I am a hunt ‘n pecker. As a man I am not. It is funny that both my brother and I were discouraged from typing because we were assured by our dad that we would have a secretary do it for us. Fortunately I am still able to type faster than I can come up with good things to type. 😉

Previously debunked by an engineer at Google/Alphabet, feminists were livid and Antisoc[ial] following the modern family of cancel culture.

Steven Brizel | April 28, 2023 at 2:52 pm

You can bet that the woke mob will try to suppress this study and force its authors to recant Maoist Cultural Revolution style

E Howard Hunt | April 28, 2023 at 3:33 pm

No honest person could ever undertake to perform such a study. Why? Because in the hard sciences scary high IQ is what moves the needle. Men hugely outnumber women at such extreme levels of intelligence. This is one of the many things that must never be mentioned, so no honest study can be done. Poor Larry Summers obliquely referred to it at Harvard, and the entire female faculty went into hysterics. It cost him his job as president.

    henrybowman in reply to E Howard Hunt. | April 28, 2023 at 7:15 pm

    It’s well documented that males have a much wider bell curve (in both directions) of intelligence and social behavior. We have more geniuses, but also more idiots and psychopaths. We have way more criminals, even non-violent criminals. Often the genius comes as a package deal with one or more of the undesirable traits (Stallman, “Rain Man,” John Nash). All too often, cultivating the benefits of someone’ genius without falling afoul of all its entanglements is like preparing fugu.

    Women as a class are more consistent and therefore more conventional. Not all scientific progress comes from breakthrough and insight. Some of it comes from dogged thoroughness in the replication (or more importantly, the non-replication) of accepted dogmas.

My experience is that when you put women into traditionally male jobs, the women start a “Women’s Workplace Issues” committee where the men just do their jobs. Differing interests, social vs technical, I figured.

The sciences were a respite for me, a place where performance counted, not the grade inflation, prejudice, and petty dictators I found in the liberal arts.

    CommoChief in reply to Valerie. | April 28, 2023 at 7:56 pm

    Yeah, in STEM you can either do the work and the math or you can’t to arrive at the answer so there is way less room for subjective games/ interpretation and fashionable theories/Orthodox narratives.

Basically, 40 years ago women were hired into faculty positions at the same rate that they were in training programs, which was about one woman to every four men. That is why the faculty rates back then were about one to four. About years ago, when men and women were being trained at about equal rates, all of the newly woke departments decided that they needed to be at 50:50 as well, so the new hires started to be almost completely woemn until parity was achieved. Think of it as basically affirmative action applied to the biological sex identity of the applicant. Even though men were being trained at the same rate, almost none of them now had a chance at getting a tenure track position. It put merit on the backburner completely. On a plus note these new hires were not able to get funding and the few schools who were still hiring based on merit are now seeing a distinct advantage. Starting to see how this ties in with the Oregon Schools wanting $1B in state funding?