Women: Latent bias harms careers

Journal name:
Nature
Volume:
479,
Page:
299
Date published:
DOI:
doi:10.1038/479299c
Published online

Ed Rybicki's Futures story describes his own helplessness in the face of everyday obstacles (Nature 477, 626; 2011). Although he sees himself as supportive of women scientists, an unintentional, subconscious bias is implied. Such bias can subvert the career path of women — something our community must get to grips with.

The story places women and men in fundamentally different categories: women are well organized and domestically oriented, whereas men are useless in everyday life but come up with theories about the Universe. It is this subconscious categorization that can hurt women as they climb the academic ladder.

Things are better for female scientists now than they were a few decades ago, as overt sexism is slowly dying out. I am hopeful that subconscious bias will follow. Search committees, for instance, could bring these issues out into the open before interviewing candidates for jobs.

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Affiliations

  1. Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.

    • Pieter van Dokkum

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Comments

  1. Report this comment #30864

    Ed Rybicki said:

    "Although he sees himself as supportive of women scientists, an unintentional, subconscious bias is implied"
    Where? Only if certain attitudes and motives are assumed for me, which are almost certainly not true. So, in the absence of any subconscious bias...?

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