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bias in peer review

Constanze Bonifer bonifer at sun2.ruf.uni-freiburg.de
Thu Jun 12 01:50:25 EST 1997

Julia Frugoli (JFRUGOLI at BIO.TAMU.EDU) wrote:

: My reading of the study was that women who made those connections only 
: got boosted to the rank of men who did not-ie, the highest ranked women 
: were on par with the lowest ranked men,  leading to the take home 
: message that a woman had to produce 2.5 times as much as a man to 
: receive the same score.

: I have to admit I am not only saddened and angered by this study, but by 
: some of my colleagues who are now pouring over the paper trying to find 
: an excuse for "why they're wrong".  The disbelief by some people that 
: bias in the system exists makes acceptance of cold fusion look easy!!
: Julia Frugoli
: Dartmouth College

That is exactly what I felt, too. When I discussed this issue with our head 
of department, he first did not believe the story, then he read it himself 
and then brought up all kinds of excuses like, oh, this is only statistics 
and with statistics you can prove all kinds of things, this study describes 
the system in Sweden, and they are very conservative, bla bla.I was the only 
women in our lab-leader meetings for years. What do these people think, why? 
Because we are more stupid? And why was it so difficult to find a position? 
I KNOW I am as good as any man.
Fortunately there were also other reactions. A male colleague of mine, who 
is also a good friend copied me an article from New Scientist magazine 
dealing with the Nature study, and wrote on the copy: we knew it always, didnt 
By the way, with respect to my proposal of a quota in one of my earlier posts:
I am very well aware of what the OTHERS will say: that women then will get posts not because of merit but because of the fact, that they are women.
This is right. They will say this. So what.
I used to say this also. But after years of struggle with the system, two years  of unsuccessful jobhunting..I found a permanent position in England now, 
by the way...this study I read in Nature really changes my mind.
 If there is active discrimination, 
the only way out of this will be to get as many women in leading positions 
as possible. In order to drive the discrimination ideas out of the heads. 
Men have to get used to women being professors and lab leaders.

Oh, one more thing:did you know, in Turkey, 40% of all professors are women.
Interesting, isnt it? 
So much for the discrimination of women in islamic countries. Which only 
proves that when it comes to this issue, there are mechanisms at work below the surface which we do not understand..yet.
We need more of these studies.

Constanze Bonifer
Institut fuer BiologieIII
Universitaet Freiburg

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