Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Gender Bias Extends to Peer Review

By Guy Nolch

Gender bias in science is found not only in pay and seniority but also in the peer review process.

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Science is a tough career, beginning with the long road to completing a PhD and continuing with issues of short-term funding cycles with low chances of success, and the reality that a particular area of expertise may limit career progression opportunities to a few institutions scattered across the globe – not exactly family-friendly stuff. It’s little wonder, then, that a survey of professional scientists last year (AS, Jan/Feb 2017, p.41) uncovered concerns about fatigue, remuneration and the impacts of cost-cutting on scientific capability.

Gender equality remains a concern in a sector popularly imagined as the domain of bearded old men in white coats. When a research career is largely measured by scientific papers published, the pause that many female scientists face when commencing a family puts them at a professional disadvantage. Two reports have put this into perspective, one revealing large pay and seniority discrepancies in science and the other a gender bias in the peer review process.

The Workplace Gender Equality Agency – a statutory agency of the Australian government created by the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 – has captured data from 12,000 reporting organisations employing more than four million Australians – 40% of the workforce. An analysis of the 2015–16 data by the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.