Gender Bias in the Sciences: A Neuroethical Priority
|Portrait of M. and Mme Lavoisier.
Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
|Image courtesy of Flickr.
Dr. Moghaddam, by all measures an incredibly successful scientist, shared many experiences of gender discrimination, from expectations that she do departmental “chores,” to colleagues’ horror that she would become pregnant early on the tenure-track, to being mistaken for an administrative assistant or janitor. And such experiences are more than anecdotal. This powerful article in the Harvard Business Review begins with a stark statistic from the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), which suggests that while approximately half of doctoral degrees in the sciences are awarded to women, they hold only 21% of full professorships—even though women often out perform their male colleagues early in their careers. The authors’ analysis suggests that, while women obtain 10-15% more prestigious first-author papers than men (the position for the junior scientist who led the research and writing efforts), women are significantly under-represented in last-author papers (the spot reserved for the senior scientist whose grant money and ideology likely guided the paper).
|Image courtesy of Wikimedia.
And on this last point, Dr. Moghaddam did not lay the blame for men’s lack of interest in the talk solely at their own door. The women in the room, she suggested, could have been more proactive about trying to bring their male friends and colleagues to the table. Women in academia (and beyond, of course) will likely take the lead in advocating for change. But this is often a perilous position. As one audience member pointed out, women may worry that they’ll be branded as “difficult” if they call out peers or superiors for sexism. And they may be right. What this suggests, then, is that men need to take on more responsibility for doing this labor. If women’s positions are already more vulnerable, those with more security should seriously consider how they can proactively improve equality. Perhaps incentives like those employed by ACNP could be applied in more contexts, driving home to men that gender equality is in their best interest.
Want to cite this post?
Grubbs, L. (2017). Gender Bias in the Sciences: A Neuroethical Priority. The Neuroethics Blog. Retrieved on , from http://www.theneuroethicsblog.com/2017/05/gender-bias-in-sciences-neuroethical.html