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    Gender Stereotypes In Academia Keep Women Out?
    By News Staff | May 29th 2014 01:59 PM | Print | E-mail | Track Comments

    In the medical work force, women have representation no different than any other corporation. That makes sense, women have accounts for half of all medical student graduates for decades.

    Yet in the top tiers of academia, they lag behind men. Is that gender bias? It is, claims Dr. Anna Kaatz and Dr. Molly Carnes of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

    Academics may have another answer; tenure. It is quite common for the corporate world to change jobs but tenure in academia means never having to look for a job again. Just because there has been parity in medical school enrollment for a generation does not mean the older generation would just quit working. What they do not examine is whether or not women are hired more or less when they apply for tenure and faculty jobs, they simply relay anecdotes. The somewhat redundant Title IX (the Civil Rights Act a few years earlier had done the exact same thing) mandated again that there could be no discrimination, that time specifically based on gender, but it did not mandate that people in jobs had to be fired to achieve equality. The authors invoke that but the evidence from other sources refutes it. Medicine likely has the most equality in representation while engineering has the most equality in pay. Even women, more inclined to be biased than men when it comes to doctor gender, ask for a male gynecologist far less than in the past.

    But gender bias is a good non-specific claim. Since it is entirely subjective it requires little evidence. In even the hard sciences, women are not hired less for tenure and faculty jobs, they are actually over-hired. But until people holding jobs retire or die they don't get to apply so it is accepted that it is a time issue rather than a bias one. It would not be ethically superior to engage in age bias, or overthrowing how academia operates, to force gender parity.


    The authors make no secret of the fact that they want to find gender bias. That means they will find it. It's just unfortunate that efforts can't be more culturally agnostic so that results can actually contribute to a meaningful discussion about representation. There is no entire industry within academia devoted to mandating more representation of handicapped people and Republicans, for example, though both of those are obviously blocked out when the numbers are analyzed the same way. When those topics come out, it is dismissed as choice. 

    Anna Kaatz, PhD, MPH, Molly Carnes, MD, MS, 'Stuck in the Out-Group: Jennifer Can't Grow Up, Jane's Invisible, and Janet's Over the Hill ', Journal of Women's Health, doi:10.1089/jwh.2014.4766.