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article imageWomen paid far less than men in universities

By Tim Sandle     Jan 31, 2015 in Business
Why are there so few women in academia? New research suggests that perceptions of a need for brilliance to excel in a field of study contribute to its relatively low numbers of women.
A new survey of 1,820 academics across 30 different fields of study has revealed that attitudes about the importance of intelligence, as opposed to hard work, could contribute to the gender gaps that continue to occur across academia. Where an expectation of brilliance was linked to specific subjects or research areas, this correlated with there being relatively few women scholars.
The survey was conducted by Princeton philosopher Sarah-Jane Leslie and psychologist Andrei Cimpian. The two aimed to uncover the underlying reasons that some fields still face a significant gender gap. In philosophy, for example, women receive fewer than 35 percent of awarded PhDs; in physics, women earn fewer than 20 percent; and in music composition, women account for only 15 percent.
Furthermore, the survey showed that these were some of the very fields in which high intelligence is generally perceived as a prerequisite for success. In fields with a greater proportion of women, such as anthropology, psychology, and biology, both male and female academics generally felt that a good work ethic could overcome deficits in intelligence.
The researchers also found a similar association between an expectation of intelligence and African Americans’ under-representation in a given field. Like women, African-Americans also face stereotypes about intellectual ability.
The argument is that “the issue is not with women’s aptitude, but rather with these disciplines’ attitudes”, as Sarah-Jane Leslie states in an interview with The Chronicle of Higher Education. She argues for a change in culture within certain fields of study.
The findings of the survey have been published in the journal Science. The report is titled “Expectations of brilliance underlie gender distributions across academic disciplines.”
More about Pay, gender pay gap, Women, Men, Gender
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