In recent years, the results of various social studies have attracted increased attention in the media and, as a result, are more publicized. The high volume of publications is a way to disseminate and convey to the public important lessons about the society in which we live. However, sometimes information is distorted, a lot is lost in translation, or important main points of the study are missed, such distortion has several consequences. In the analyzed research and news articles on gender bias towards women in science, there are some similar omissions.
The news article “Bias Persists for Women of Science, a Study Finds” is based on research reflected in “Science faculty’s subtle gender biases favor male students.” The author emphasizes that science professors at American universities believe female students are less competent than male students with the same achievements and skills. The article briefly describes the testing procedure, provides the opinions of some university professors, and suggests conclusions. Professors were less likely to offer women a job, and if they were willing to offer a job to a woman, the starting salary was lower than that offered to a man. Both female and male professors from different science departments were prejudiced against female students (Chang, 2012). The main finding was that bias is a subconscious cultural influence and not deliberate discrimination.
Despite the simplification of the information conveyed, the news article reflects the main points and research results of the journal article. The information is presented in a rather concise form, comments are given by professors absent in the study; this is due to the required format, assuming research review material and expert opinion. Such a scheme occurs most often and is intended to attract the attention and interest of the reader, who does not intend to delve into more significant research, statistics and figures. The formulation that introduces the subject is very categorical and can be perceived or even reused incorrectly. The emphasis is on the incompetence of women in science compared to men, according to the professors. The categorical formulation assumes a one-sided perception of the situation and is regarded rather as discrimination towards female students, which is not correct. The study focuses on gender bias, which is ubiquitous and can be justified by subconscious centuries-old cultural influences (Moss-Racusin et al., 2012). The point is that the prejudices do not stem from a conscious desire to impede the progress of women in science.
The main disappointing finding of the study is that existing gender bias prevents women from fully participating in science. Subsequently, this can undermine the possibility of expanding scientific personnel, affecting national competitiveness and recognition in this area. The news article misses these conclusions, limiting the reader to social issues while not providing information about what this could threaten in a global sense. The methodology is not discussed in the study overview, but testing is provided as detailed as possible; the main points that give communication and understanding to the reader are indicated. Much simplified information, some categorical formulations, incorrect accents, and conclusions convey the research results in a limited way; depriving the opportunity to see the whole picture of what is happening. The summary of highlights provides general information and can sometimes be helpful, but the shortcomings described can lead to misunderstanding or misuse of the research results by the public.
Moss-Racusin, C. A., Dovidio, J. F., Brescoll, V. L., Graham, M. J., & Handelsman, J. (2012). Science faculty’s subtle gender biases favor male students. Proceedings of the national academy of sciences, 109(41), 16474-16479.
Chang, K. (2012). Bias Persists for Women of Science, a Study Finds. The New York Times.