DEI research and scholarship
Social science research on STEM diversity and inclusion show that underrepresented groups typically face more biases and obstacles. It also shows that members from underrepresented groups typically shoulder the burden of doing DEI work. Some studies are highlighted below.
Gender Bias in Hiring: In this study, application materials for a lab manager position were randomly assigned a male or female name. Science faculty rated the male applicant as significantly more competent and hirable than the (identical) female applicant. Both male and female faculty were equally likely to exhibit bias against the female student. (Moss-Racusin et al, 2012).
Nonbinary and Transgender: A study found that transgender women tend to have worse employment experiences than nonbinary transgender people and transgender men, the latter two tending to have similar outcomes (Davidson, 2016).
Letters of Recommendation: A study found that regardless of the gender of the letter writer, male applicants were more likely to receive outstanding letters compared to female applicants (Dutt et al, 2016), with men more likely to be described as “brilliant” and “superb” and women were more likely to be described as “hardworking” and “intelligent” (Trix and Psenke, 2003).
Teaching Evaluations: A study found that a professor with a male name received higher teaching evaluations than an identical professor with a female name (Boring et al, 2016).
Scientific Contribution: A study found that women disproportionately perform the labor and experimental work of producing science – such as pipetting and centrifuging – while men are more likely to credited for their vision and ideas (Macaluso et al, 2016).
Citations: A study found that men were more likely to praise their own research as “excellent” and “unique” and “novel” compared to women (Jagsi and Silver, 2019). Another study found that men cited their own papers 56 percent more than women on average, and that this gap remained stable despite increased representation of women in academia in recent decades (King et al, 2017).
Attitude Towards Evidence of Gender Bias: A study found that men evaluated gender bias research less favorably than women, and this skepticism was especially prominent among male faculty in STEM fields (Handley et al, 2015).
Harassment: A study found that women of color experienced the highest rates of negative workplace experiences in STEM, including harassment and assault (Clancy et al, 2017). While women commonly experience more harassment than men, a study found that LGBTQ+ women and gender minorities in particular were more likely to be harassed than cisgender, heterosexual women (Richey et al, 2019).
Speaking Opportunities: A study found that female scientists were invited and assigned talks less often than men at conferences (Ford et al, 2018). A related study found that women of color – in particular from underrepresented minorities – were least likely to be invited to speak at conferences (Ford et al, 2019).
Innate Talent: A study found that women and racial minorities (particularly African Americans) were underrepresented in fields where raw innate talent and brilliance were considered a requirement (Leslie et al, 2015). Another study found that women and African Americans were less likely to be described as “brilliant” or “genius” in online teaching evaluations (Storage et al, 2016).
Leaving STEM Fields at Higher Rates: A study found that while Black, White, and Hispanic/Latinx students were similarly likely to enroll in STEM fields, Black and Hispanic/Latinx students left STEM at higher rates, even for students with similar academic preparation (Reigle-Crumb et al, 2019). Another study found that LGBTQ students were more likely to leave STEM majors than their straight counterparts (Hughes, 2018)
“Where Are You Really From?” A study found that Asian Americans commonly experience identity denial and are perceived as less American than other racial groups (Cheryan and Monin, 2005). Another study found that Asian scientists were rarely awarded top science prizes (Jan, 2022).
NIH Grant Awards: A study revealed that Black scientists were far less likely to receive NIH funding for a research idea than White scientists from a similar institutions and research records (Ginther et al, 2011). Another study showed that for early career scientists, women received approximately $41,000 less grant funding on average than male scientists (Oliveira et al, 2019)
Foreign Accents: Non-native accents make it difficult for native speakers to understand what is being said, and this reduces cognitive fluency (the ease with which the brain processes it). A study found that this caused people to doubt the veracity of what was being said. This credibility bias was somewhat reduced for milder accents compared to heavier accents (Lev-Ari and Keysar, 2010).
Interview Callback: Using fictitious resumes a study found a significant racial gap in callbacks for interviews. Resumes with traditionally White names such as Emily and Greg elicited 50 percent more callbacks than similar resumes with Black/ethnic names such as Lakisha and Jamal. (Bertrand and Mullainathan, 2004).