Belief in Gender Bias and Promotions for Women

August 27, 2019

A new study based on actual academic hiring data says that committees whose members don't believe in gender bias are less likely to promote women. "Our evidence suggests that when people recognize women might face barriers, they are more able to put aside their own biases," co-author Toni Schmader, Canada Research Chair in Social Psychology at the University of British Columbia, said of the study, published in Nature Human Behavior. “We don't see any favorability for or against male or female candidates among those committees who believe they need to be vigilant to the possibility that biases could be creeping in to their decision making.”

The study considered decisions from 40 evaluation committees who filled positions with France’s National Committee for Scientific Research over two years. Committees whose members tested positive for strong implicit gender biases and whose members said they did not believe that external barriers hold women back promoted fewer women in the second year of the study -- when committees weren’t reminded about the experiment -- relative to the first year, when the study was announced.

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