ently lack the qualities needed for success; obviously, no changes in innate abilities could occur in so short a time.1

Surveys of the definite postgraduate plans of science and engineering doctoral recipients show that similar proportions of women and men plan for a career in academe. As shown in Chapter 3, despite similar career aspirations, women have not been able to translate their success at earning science and engineering PhDs into academic careers equal to those attained by men.

Academe is purportedly a meritocracy that rewards objectively determined accomplishment. However, many studies document that both bias and structural barriers built into academic institutions and the occupation of professor limit many women’s ability to be hired and promoted in university faculties. In fact, the academy has perpetuated patterns of bias that devalue women and minorities and their abilities, aspirations, accomplishments, and roles. As described in Chapter 4, small but consistent differences in evaluation, often caused by gender bias, can have a sustained and substantial impact on career outcomes.

I have always believed that contemporary gender discrimination within universities is part reality and part perception, but I now understand that reality is by far the greater part of the balance.

—Chuck Vest, President, MIT2

A substantial body of research demonstrates that women are underrepresented at higher levels of business and academe because of the influence of gender schemas and the accumulation of disadvantage that such schemas generate.3 Gender schemas systematically influence both women and men’s perceptions and evaluations of competence and performance, and they cause women to be consistently underrated and men consistently overrated. Academic scientists and engineers show bias against women applying for grants, employment, and tenure. To achieve the same competence rating as a man, a woman must have a significantly superior


J Handelsman, N Cantor, M Carnes, D Denton, E Fine, B Grosz, V Hinshaw, C Marrett, S Rosser, D Shalala, and J Sheridan (2005). More women in science. Science 309:1190-1199, http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/309/5738/1190.


Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1999). A study on the status of women faculty in science at MIT. MIT Faculty Newsletter 11(4), http://web.mit.edu/fnl/women/women.html.


V Valian (1998). Why So Slow? The Advancement of Women. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

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