A contributing factor to the leaky pipeline of women leaving the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics career path is bias, writes The American Prospect.
Indeed, a recent PNAS article from Yale University researchers found that faculty members, when reviewing applications for a lab manger position, judged the one with a male name as more competent than the same application with a female name appended to it.
"These are the biases that everyone holds," Fatima Goss Graves, vice president for education and employment at the National Women's Law Center, tells the Prospect. She adds that such biases "disadvantage the female students. Already, in some cases, they're taking a leap of faith in going into a field in which they're making up a small percentage."
The Prospect notes that the main challenge is getting people to realize that they hold such biases and then to try to deal with them. "Members of science fields tend to pride themselves on objectivity and their dedication to meritocracy, something that for years has helped perpetuate the myth that if women were really as good as their male colleagues, they would have risen to the top of the field on the merits of their work," it says.
A New York-based technology manager tells the Prospect that the idea of a meritocracy is a lie. "I genuinely believed that you could test for technical skills and show in a real black-and-white way whether [an applicant could] succeed," the manager says. "One day the curtain fell from my eyes."