Male Peer Raters Discount Women’s Expertise in Science, Engineering

J Stuart Bunderson

J Stuart Bunderson

Problem-solving work groups and individual career development benefit from accurate recognition and deployment of expertise.

Nancy DiTomaso

Nancy DiTomaso

People who are perceived as experts by team members, regardless of their actual expertise, have a number of career advantages, found Washington University’s J. Stuart Bunderson:

  • Greater influence in group decision-making,
  • More opportunities to perform,
  • Great opportunity for team leadership roles.
D Randall Smith

D Randall Smith

In addition, peer evaluations of expertise frequently contribute to individual rewards, compensation, and advancement, noted Rutgers’ Nancy DiTomaso, D. Randall Smith and George F. Farris with Corinne Post of Pace University and New Jersey Institute of Technology ‘s Rene Cordero.

Melissa Thomas-Hunt

Melissa Thomas-Hunt

Teams benefit when they accurately identify and use group members’ expertise because they perform more effectively and produce higher quality work products, found Cornell’s Melissa C. Thomas-Hunt, Tonya Y. Ogden of Washington University, and Stanford’s Margaret A. Neale.

Aparna Joshi

Aparna Joshi

However, women in science and engineering do not have equal opportunities to fully use their expertise in work groups, and to receive commensurate rewards, reported Penn State’s Aparna Joshi.

George Farris

George Farris

She obtained peer ratings and longitudinal research productivity data for 500 scientists and engineers and found that women’s technical expertise was undervalued by male colleagues in peer ratings.

Rene Cordero

Rene Cordero

Male and female raters assigned different importance to education when evaluating team members’ expertise.
Women’s ratings were correlated with the target person’s education level, but males evaluators considered educational attainment less than male gender in assigning highest ratings for expertise.

As a result, women’s highest ratings went to those with the highest education level, whereas men’s top evaluations were assigned to other men, no matter their education level.

Margaret Neale

Margaret Neale

Women received significantly lower expertise evaluations than men, and men evaluated highly educated women more negatively than female raters who assessed their peers.

These findings suggest that male peers discount women’s educational achievements and are unlikely to effectively use women’s expertise, to the detriment of team work output as well as individual recognition.

-*How do you ensure that your expertise is recognized and applied in work groups?

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2 thoughts on “Male Peer Raters Discount Women’s Expertise in Science, Engineering

  1. kathrynwelds Post author

    Dawn Frail, Leadership Development Specialist, Myers-Briggs Master Practitioner, Rogers TV Community Producer wrote:

    Wow! To all those women out there who thought they weren’t being taken seriously, or who were shocked to have their idea dismissed only to have it be accepted as a brilliant idea when put forward by a man… you weren’t imagining it!

    Kathryn Welds replied:

    Thanks for your note, Dawn.
    You are so right that many may have felt or actually been undervalued by colleagues, but haven’t discussed the experience.
    These varied researchers have scrutinized the anecdotal experience using empirical methods, and validate that there is a systematic bias.
    As more organizational leaders become aware of implicit bias, we can hope that evaluation “checks-and-balances” will be added to talent assessment processes.

    Reply
  2. kathrynwelds Post author

    Dawn Frail continued:

    Kathryn, I believe a big part of the solution is, as you say, for leaders to become aware of what’s going on. Keeping communication transparent is key, and leaders need to be willing to hear the opinions of women who feel subjected to this bias, without shrugging it off as “a woman thing.” Let’s keep the conversation going.

    Kathryn replied:
    Thanks for the reminder, Dawn, to continue the conversation.
    Hoping to hear from others about ways to increase awareness of biased talent evaluations along with effective solutions.

    Reply

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