Women have a 2:1 advantage over men when applying for tenure-track roles in mathematically intensive subjects in academia.
Stephen Ceci and Wendy Williams from Cornell University recently published a paper suggesting that when applying for tenure-track positions in mathematically intensive subjects, women have the advantage. Why? That’s what they wanted to know.
They had both gone through actual hiring data which showed that fewer women applied for these jobs, but when they did, they were the preferred candidate. A common argument for this is that when women have reached that stage, they are the stronger candidate because they have survived discrimination in various forms throughout their career leading up to this point. The paper, published in PNAS, says this isn’t the case.
Instead, their research suggests that women have the advantage, just because they are women and that competence wasn’t what was setting them apart. They sent identical applications to more than 800 tenure-track faculty in the US to consider, the only difference in these applications was the gender, and women were still the preferred candidate.
This is a very different story to what many people see and feel every day in academia, and thus this paper has had a lot of criticism. In this podcast I give Williams and Ceci an opportunity to share their results, their motivations for their research, and give them an opportunity to speak out about some of the criticism they’ve received.
You can find out more about their study on their website, and read the paper, National hiring experiments reveal 2:1 faculty preference for women on STEM tenure track, for free on PNAS.
Considering how much interest this paper has received, we’re keen to know what you think! If you have any comments about the research or any first-hand experience you want to share, please leave a comment on the blog.