You might think in the 21st century that discrimination wouldn’t be problematic for job applicants in STEM — the acronym for science, technology, engineering and math. Sadly, that’s not the case.
Of course, it’s been widely documented that women suffer from gender bias in technology. As in tech hiring, data shows there are two reasons why STEM is a male bastion.
Not only do STEM male hiring managers give preference to men, so do their female counterparts — even at the detriment of company profits — according to an academic study.
The study, How Stereotypes Impair Women’s Careers in Science, was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The disturbing revelation of gender bias was revealed in the study led by Ernesto Reuben, assistant professor of management at Columbia Business School.
The study was co-authored by Paola Sapienza from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern and Luigi Zingales from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
Why more men?
“Studies that seek to answer why there are more men than women in STEM fields typically focus on women’s interests and choices,” said Professor Reuben.
“This may be important, but our experiments show that another culprit of this phenomenon is that hiring managers possess an extraordinary level of gender bias when making decisions and filling positions, often times choosing the less qualified male over a superiorly qualified female,” he added.
A Columbia Business School press release said that in “an experiment in which participants were hired to perform a mathematical task, both male and female managers were twice as likely to hire a man than a woman — even when the managers had no information beyond a candidate’s appearance and, therefore, gender.”
“The end result is not only a less diverse workforce and a male-dominated STEM field, but also a detriment to these companies for hiring the less-skilled person for the job,” commented Dr. Reuben.
The press release said: “…when the hiring manager had no other information other than a candidate’s gender, they were twice as likely to hire a man than a woman, because they incorrectly believed that men are more talented in science and math…”
Wait, there’s more.
“In some situations up to 90 percent of the time when a mistake was made, it was made in favor of a man,” said Dr. Reuben.
Even worse, the release disclosed: “When hiring managers were given information about the candidates’ actual performance, the bias against women was reduced, but not eliminated, the researchers found.”
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“Capitalism knows only one color: that color is green; all else is necessarily subservient to it, hence, race, gender and ethnicity cannot be considered within it.”