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The impact of gender on researchers’ assessment: A randomized controlled trial

  • Marina Christ Franco
    Correspondence
    Corresponding author. Tel no. +5553997072679.
    Affiliations
    Centre for Journalology, Clinical Epidemiology Program, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, The Ottawa Hospital – General Campus, 501 Smyth Rd, Ottawa, Canada

    Graduate Program in Dentistry, School of Dentistry, Federal University of Pelotas, 457 Gonçalves Chaves Street, Pelotas, Brazil
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  • Lucas Helal
    Affiliations
    Centre for Journalology, Clinical Epidemiology Program, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, The Ottawa Hospital – General Campus, 501 Smyth Rd, Ottawa, Canada

    Universidade do Extremo Sul Catarinense, 1105 Universitária Avenue, Criciúma, Santa Catarina, Brazil
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  • Maximiliano Sérgio Cenci
    Affiliations
    Graduate Program in Dentistry, School of Dentistry, Federal University of Pelotas, 457 Gonçalves Chaves Street, Pelotas, Brazil
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  • David Moher
    Affiliations
    Centre for Journalology, Clinical Epidemiology Program, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, The Ottawa Hospital – General Campus, 501 Smyth Rd, Ottawa, Canada
    Search for articles by this author

      Highlights

      • CVs from men applicants received higher scores for all categories evaluated compared to CVs from women despite applicant's career stage.
      • CVs from men had nearly three quarters more likely to be seen as having leadership potential than equivalent CVs from women, even though the CVs were exactly the same (except for the applicant's gender identification).
      • Both male and female evaluators gave lower grades for women's CVs.
      • Gender bias is prevalent in academia, even indexed by the Dentistry field, despite researchers' career stage.

      Abstract

      Objectives

      This randomized controlled trial aimed to test whether women or men would be preferred with identical curriculum vitae (CV); and the impact of the career stage in the evaluators’ choice.

      Study Design and Setting

      A simulated post-doctoral process was carried forward to be assessed for judgment. Level 1 and 2 Brazilian fellow researchers in the field of Dentistry were invited to act as external reviewers in a post-doctoral process and were randomly assigned to receive a CV from a woman or a man. They were required to rate the CV from 0 to 10 in scientific contribution, leadership potential, ability to work in groups, and international experience.

      Results

      For all categories of CVs evaluated, CVs from men received higher scores compared to the CVs from women. Robust variance Poisson regressions demonstrated that men were more likely to receive higher scores in all categories, despite applicants’ career stage. For example, CVs from men were nearly three quarters more likely to be seen as having leadership potential than equivalent CVs from women.

      Conclusion

      Gender bias is powerfully prevalent in academia in the dentistry field, despite researchers' career stage. Actions like implicit bias training must be urgently implemented to avoid (or at least decrease) that more women are harmed.

      Keywords

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