A large fraction of articles in the prestige press these days consists of women complaining about office politics at their jobs.
Yeah, that sounds boring, but, you don’t understand, these are women kvetching about office politics. So that’s News. For example, from the New York Times:
Women at the Salk Institute say they faced a culture of marginalization and hostility. The numbers from other elite scientific institutions suggest they’re not alone.
By Mallory Pickett
April 18, 2019
… On paper, Nancy Hopkins had a charmed career. As an undergraduate at Radcliffe College, she was handpicked by James Watson, of Watson and Crick, for mentorship.
James Watson? Shouldn’t Nancy Hopkins be Kate Smithed out of her job for her Racism By Association with James Watson?
Alert Amy Harmon!
In 1973, she was hired as an assistant professor at M.I.T.’s Center for Cancer Research, and was quickly promoted to receive tenure. But in the early ’90s, when she began a new set of genetics experiments using zebra fish and requested an extra 200 square feet for aquariums, the faculty member in charge of facilities refused.
Then there follows a lot of details over how much square footage Hopkins had and various office machinations that remind me of old jokes about how vicious academic politics are because the stakes are so low. Here’s a mildly interesting part:
In 2005, [MIT professor Nancy Hopkins] attended an invitation-only conference in Cambridge, where Lawrence Summers, Harvard’s president at the time, wondered aloud whether the scarcity of female scientists at elite universities might be a function of “intrinsic aptitude.” Hopkins immediately closed her computer and left the room. “I think what’s so painful about it is that we’re scientists and we’re supposed to be interested in the truth,” she says. “If it’s true, O.K., it’s true. But then show me the data. And this is a topic on which you cannot show me the data.” For Summers to ask the question “was not science,” she says. “It was not interesting.”
If Nancy Hopkins tells you that a huge topic that gets Nancy Hopkins extremely emotional “was not science,” and “was not interesting,” you can be damn sure it’s an interesting scientific question.
By the way, from the Cornell Chronicle four years ago:
By Ted Boscia | April 13, 2015
For decades, sexism in higher education has been blamed for blocking women from landing academic positions in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields.
But a new study by Cornell psychologists suggests that era has ended, finding in experiments with professors from 371 colleges and universities across the United States that science and engineering faculty preferred women two-to-one over identically qualified male candidates for assistant professor positions.
Published online April 13 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the paper, “National Hiring Experiments Reveal 2:1 Faculty Preference For Women on STEM Tenure Track,” by Wendy M. Williams, professor of human development, and Stephen J. Ceci, the Helen L. Carr Professor of Developmental Psychology, both in Cornell’s College of Human Ecology, argues that the academic job market has never been better for women Ph.D.s in math-intensive fields.
Williams and Ceci conducted five randomized controlled experiments with 873 tenure-track faculty in all 50 U.S. states to assess gender bias. In three studies, faculty evaluated narrative summaries describing hypothetical male and female applicants for tenure-track assistant professorships in biology, economics, engineering and psychology. In a fourth experiment, engineering faculty evaluated full CVs instead of narratives, and in a fifth study, faculty evaluated one candidate (either a man or identically qualified woman) without comparison to an opposite-gender candidate. Candidates’ personalities were systematically varied to disguise the hypotheses.
The only evidence of bias the authors discovered was in favor of women; faculty in all four disciplines preferred female applicants to male candidates, with the exception of male economists, who showed no gender preference.