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On the List: Jan 15, 2013

While women make up nearly half of biomedical graduate students, they don't make up the same proportion of professors, and an unnamed scientist writes at The Guardian that part of the issue could be that women aren't treated fairly. A Proceedings of the National Academy of Science article that appeared in September found faculty members treated male and female students seeking a lab manager position differently, despite the CVs being identical other than the name on it.

"Several non-scientists found it hard to believe that the same CV could be evaluated so differently, and with such serious consequences in terms of pay and mentoring. Yet since the beginning of my career, I have always been acutely aware that I need to do better than a man to stand a chance of being hired ahead of him," she writes, adding that "several people welcomed what they saw as concrete data to support their observations."

While the PNAS study itself suggested that there should be efforts to educate faculty members about such subtle bias, The Guardian writer says additional steps should be taken. "Since this study shows that the discrimination occurs, at least in part, at the stage of the evaluation of the paper application, I would insist that hiring committees shortlist the 'best' female applicants. Such positive discrimination is controversial," she writes. "However, if 100 candidates apply, and six are shortlisted, how hard would it be to ensure the top two female candidates are also shortlisted?"