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authors found that there were gender differences in how editors worked and how reviewers made recommendations, but they found final “manuscript acceptance rates did not differ across author gender and editor gender combinations” (Gilbert et al., 1992). Another study by Swim et al. (1989)—where the authors conducted a meta-analysis on studies drawing on the influential experiment conducted by Goldberg in 1968—demonstrated that women rated publications perceived to have been written by female authors less favorably than those thought to have been written by males.

This bias could occur because of at least two different kinds of stereotypes about women (Cole et al., 2004). Evaluators could have descriptive stereotypes. For example, they could believe women “don’t have what it takes to succeed in competitive situations.” Alternatively, evaluators could have prescriptive stereotypes. A woman perceived as behaving in an unfeminine way to get an academic position could be negatively evaluated for her behavior. In addition to broad gender stereotypes, gender stereotypes specific to the academic world, such as a perception that women are less mobile or less committed to the profession, may affect invitations to interview. Differences in the level of socialization among male and female graduate students and postdocs may further impact an aspiring faculty member by affecting the quality of letters of reference. This may be a significant problem. Trix and Psenka (2003), for example, found recommendation letters for women for medical faculty positions were shorter, less favorable, and focused more on women’s teaching abilities than the letters for men.5 In general, perceptions regarding women, held by both men and women, may have a detrimental effect on hiring or career advancement (Valian, 1998).


This is not a new problem. Stake et al. (1981) found letters of recommendation were more favorable when the letter writers and the job seekers were of the same gender.

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