bias in peer review

Sylvia Becker becker at
Mon Jun 9 05:14:56 EST 1997

On 7 Jun 1997 21:10:47 GMT, Constanze Bonifer <bonifer at> wrote:
 : I have just now read the article in Nature magazine about the bias against 
 : women in peer review. I was shocked. All those years I had ideas about 
 : women being less successful in getting positions because of
 : - problems to combine family obligations and career
 : -problems with the old boys network
 : -problems because networking is not something that women are used to do
 : - general education, problems with self - esteem
 : And so on. All kinds of reasons. And then I read this article about the 
 : peer review system in one of the most advanced countries in the world
 : when it comes to womens rights and here we are:
 : None of these reasons apply, because the study strictly compares
 : scientists who have published with the same impact factor.
: It will also be very interesting to know what the Swedes are going to do about 
 : this. Because here not just numbers, but individuals have been betrayed.
 : Any Swedes out there? Women who have not gotten grants?
 : Constanze


from what I have learned about the Swedish way of dealing with women's rights
(at a conference on women in science and engineering in Paderborn), this
review on gender bias is not that surprising:  the Swedish idea is first and
foremost to provide independence for women.  This means there are apt child
care facilities etc. and no woman has to depend on her husband's income, she
can be financially independent.  As s result, most Swedish women work -
mostly in the traditionally female sectors (child care, hospitals,
secretarial work etc.).  The percentage of women to enter the typically male
fields is comparatively low and the "enlightenment" of the Old Boys cannot
be expected.  This system does provide financial independence as I said, but
it does little to eliminate gender bias!  

As far as I understand, the US try to work at the other extreme: eliminate
gender bias by eventually having the same number of men and women in any 
given field.  Essentially leaving the social issues (child care etc.) out of
the picture as they will come up "free market" style due to enhanced demand.
(This is phrased a bit more extreme than it is meant just to show the
basically different concepts.  Both approaches are in reality applied with


BEWARE, NOSPAM address in header.  Please use the address from the signature
or throw out the "grr" strings  in the one above.
Dr. Sylvia R. Becker                  |  Phone:  +49 89 922094 39
Universitaetssternwarte Muenchen      |  Fax:    +49 89 922094 27
Scheinerstr. 1                        |  e-mail: becker at
D-81679 Muenchen, Germany

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