Research press release


Nature Geoscience

Postdoc recommendations for women half as likely to be excellent



Kuheli Duttたちは、極めて競争の激しい地球科学分野のポスドク・フェローシップに対する54か国の452人の応募者に対して、1,101人の推薦人が書いた1,224件の推薦状のデータを分析し、特にその長さと文調を評価した。彼らは、推薦人の地域と性別および推薦状の長さを調整した後に、女性の応募者が、妥当な内容以上の卓越した推薦状を書いてもらえるのは半数に過ぎないことを明らかにした。著者たちは応募者の能力をコントロールすることはできないが、男性と女性がほぼ同じ割合で疑わしいとみなされる内容の推薦状を受け取っており、このように評価されるものは推薦状全体のわずか2.5%であると述べている。


Women were half as likely as men to receive excellent-rated recommendation letters for geoscience postdoctoral fellowships at a competitive university in the northeastern United States, reports a study published online in Nature Geoscience. In addition, it made no difference whether recommenders were male or female, suggesting that unconscious gender biases affect men and women equally.

In the geosciences, women hold about 40% of all doctoral degrees, but among full professors they represent only 10% of the workforce. The postdoctoral years have been identified as the largest leak in the pipeline for female scientists.

Kuheli Dutt and colleagues analysed a data set of 1,224 recommendation letters for highly selective geoscience postdoctoral fellowships, written by 1,101 recommenders from 54 countries for 452 applicants, and specifically rated the length and tone of the letters. They found that, after controlling for recommender region, recommender gender and letter length, female applicants were only half as likely to receive an excellent, rather than a good letter of recommendation. Although the authors were not able to control for the qualifications of the applicants, they note that roughly the same proportion of men and women received letters that were rated as doubtful, and these doubtful ratings represented only 2.5% of all letters.

The authors conclude that women are disadvantaged from the start of their geoscience careers and hope that their results will help raise awareness of these gender biases and inform initiatives to recruit and retain women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

doi: 10.1038/ngeo2819


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