Physics Colloquium of 19 April 2022

"Assessing Gender Bias in Particle Physics and Social Science Recommendations for Academic Jobs"
Robert Bernstein, Fermilab

We investigated [1] gender bias in letters of recommendation as a possible cause of the under-representation of women in Experimental Particle Physics (EPP), where about 15% of faculty are female—well below the 60% level in psychology and sociology. We analyzed 2206 letters in EPP and these two social sciences using standard lexical measures as well as two new measures: author status and an open-ended search for gendered language. In contrast to former studies, women were not depicted as more communal, less agentic, or less standout. Lexical measures revealed few gender differences in either discipline. The open-ended analysis revealed disparities favoring women in social science and men in EPP. However, female EPP candidates were characterized as "brilliant" in nearly three times as many letters as were men.

References: [1]

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