A Case Study of Gender Bias at the Postdoctoral Level in Physics, and its Resulting Impact on the Academic Career Advancement of Females
This case study of a typical U.S. particle physics experiment explores the issues of gender bias and how it affects the academic career advancement prospects of women in the field of physics beyond the postdoctoral level; we use public databases to study the career paths of the full cohort of 57 former postdoctoral researchers on the Run II Dzero experiment to examine if males and females were treated in a gender-blind fashion on the experiment.
In our study we follow the career paths of the full cohort of postdoctoral researchers who collaborated on the Run II Dzero experiment between 1998 and the end of 2006, and who have since moved on to another job. In this study, similar to Wenneras and Wold, we assess the productivity of each researcher in our sample, and then examine whether or not the reward (in this case conference presentations, in the case of Wenneras and Wold, postdoctoral research grants) is gender-blind. We also determine whether or not the number of physics conference presentations allocated to a female researcher is associated with her prospects of academic career advancement.
The study finds that the female researchers were on average significantly more productive compared to their male peers, yet were allocated only 1/3 the amount of conference presentations based on their productivity. The study also finds that the dramatic gender bias in allocation of conference presentations appeared to have significant negative impact on the academic career advancement of the females.
The author has a PhD in particle physics and worked for six years as a postdoctoral research scientist, five of which were spent collaborating at Fermilab. She is currently completing a graduate degree in statistics.