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Recognition through awards: a source of gender inequality in science?

Helga Van Miegroet, Christy Glass


Drawing from Acker’s gendered organizations perspective, this study analyzes the gender distribution of research and non-research awards in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) colleges at a mid-size public doctoral university in the western U.S. This analysis is complemented with a faculty survey (2016) elucidating faculty perceptions of the nomination process and their standing within their department and college. Despite an increase in the number of women among STEM faculty over time, women remain underrepresented among research award recipients, especially at the university level.  The ratio of research to non-research awards for men is 3 to 6 times that of women faculty. Differences in productivity cannot be invoked as a mechanism for this gendered awards distribution. Women report being overlooked in the nomination process for all awards.  This study suggests that the nomination and selection processes put women at an evaluative disadvantage with respect to high-status research awards. Social proximity tends to neutralize some of the evaluation bias at the college level.


academic STEM, gendered organizations, bias, awards, glass ceiling, status

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