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Work By Female Scientists Gets Judged More Harshly: Study
Date:4/19/2013

FRIDAY, April 19 (HealthDay News) -- Gender plays a role in how researchers perceive the work of other scientists, according to a new study.

Researchers at Ohio State University found that scientific studies written by men were viewed as higher quality than identical studies listing female authors. This gender bias, they noted, is significant and will have important implications over the course of a woman's career in science.

"In grant proposals, promotion and tenure reviews, hiring decisions and so on, a scholar's sex will be a relevant factor in how she or he is evaluated," study lead author Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick, associate professor of communication at The Ohio State University, said in a university news release. "All of these small factors will add up over the course of a career and may prevent some women from reaching the same career heights as men."

The study was published online recently in the journal Science Communication.

In conducting the study, the researchers asked nearly 250 graduate students in communication from universities around the United States to read and evaluate 15 short summaries, or abstracts, of studies presented at an academic conference. Some of the studies listed two male authors, while others listed two female authors.

The researchers also rotated the authors listed on the studies. As a result, some participants thought certain studies were authored by men, while others thought they were written by women.

The summaries were rated for quality, including how "important" and "innovative" they were. The study revealed that, overall, the summaries written by men were rated more highly than those with female authors. Women involved in the study did not differ from male participants in how they perceived the summaries. The researchers noted that 70 percent of the study participants were women, which could help explain why a difference was not found.

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