Stereotypes Continue to Obstruct Equality

In shocking research recently revealed, it appears that men and women are twice as likely to hire a man for a maths-based job. The study, reported by Tech Crunch’s  Gregory Ferenstein, showed how stereotypes still impair women’s careers in mathematics and science.

The research undertaken in the USA by the University of Chicago set an hypothetical job opportunity based only on the candidates’ abilities with mathematics, exploring how men and women discriminated against applicants. The researchers reveal…

We studied the effect of such stereotypes in an experimental market, where subjects were hired to perform an arithmetic task that, on average, both genders perform equally well. We find that without any information other than a candidate’s appearance (which makes sex clear), both male and female subjects are twice more likely to hire a man than a woman. The discrimination survives if performance on the arithmetic task is self-reported, because men tend to boast about their performance, whereas women generally under-report it. The discrimination is reduced, but not eliminated, by providing full information about previous performance on the task.

Without any information about the candidates’ abilities, men were chosen twice as often, even though it created teams that were overall less effective at solving maths problems.

The study finds that this is partly attributable to our latent biases, which were measured by a test of association on gender and the hard sciences. But, even accounting for participants who associate men with the hard sciences, hypothetical job recruiters were still more likely to pick a man, all things being equal.

Click here to read the Tech Crunch Article, and/or click here to visit the research abstract page.

The implications of this are wider than the education field, as many discriminatory thoughts and behaviours are engrained from early on in lives. It is the role of education to challenge these beliefs, so we can step to a more fair and equal society – no matter from where you are reading this. Take a look at our earlier post that displayed a selection of images that hope to change the way society views women – perhaps we need a similar post that displays images that hope to change the way society views men.

Image attribution: Slide3

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The Editorial Account of UKEdChat, managed by editor-in-chief Colin Hill, with support from Martin Burrett from the UKEd Magazine. Pedagogy, Resources, Community.

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