Are there differences in the treatment of males and females within research? The answer is a resounding…Yes!!! In order to fully understand the concept, I will first address what the meaning of gender bias is and how it is incorporated within our society. It is the actions and behaviors that maybe conscious or unconscious towards the opposite gender which exposes an organized set of beliefs revealing what it means to be female or male. It is these gender stereotypical outlooks regarding the natural roles of women and men that influence the perceptions of a gender’s worth within our own culture. It is a prejudice that involves unfair as well as unequal treatment in which discrimination plays a major role. Freyd & Johnson (2010) commented, “One error people make is assuming that gender bias and discrimination require a conscious sexist ideology or a conscious attempt to discriminate against women. In fact, however, psychological science has overwhelmingly demonstrated that sexist behaviors, gender bias, and discrimination can and do occur without these conscious beliefs or attempts to discriminate.” Gender bias may be subtle but, it takes place every day as it exists in all aspects of our society.
Girls and women as a minority are targeted by these barriers in academic areas as well as, in the workforce by the “glass ceiling.” This concept begins early on in school for boys and girls. Bailey (1992) argued, “Teachers socialize girls towards a feminine ideal. Girls are praised for being neat, quiet, and calm, whereas boys are encouraged to think independently, be active and speak up. Girls are socialized in schools to recognize popularity as being important, and learn that educational performance and ability are not as important…Boys, on the other hand, are more likely to rank independence and competence as more important.”
Additionally, even though they are in the same classroom setting, working on the same home works the gender bias has already taken effect. Teachers will respond to boys and treat them differently than girls. While these children (and women in similar situations) are reading the same textbooks and even having equivalent capabilities the test results and scores will fluctuate as Childs (1990) remarked, “A test is biased if men and women with the same ability levels tend to obtain different scores. The conditions under which a test is administered, the wording of individual items, and even a student’s attitude toward the test will affect test results.” Not only the language of a test but, also the context of the questions can be construed as being gender biased.
Furthermore, gender bias will follow women into college as well as in a chosen profession. One article that discussed how researchers did account for gender bias in their respective studies was a report on the women faculty members in science who requested a committee be formed regarding the status of senior women faculty members and the inequality they were facing. The Committee learned that the percent of women faculty in the School of Science has not increased for at least a decade. As of 1994 there were 22 women faculty, 252 male faculty. The results were written in the newsletter of The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1999) which stated, “The heart of the problem is that equal talent and accomplishment are viewed as unequal when seen through the eyes of prejudice… There is a perception among many women faculty that there may be gender related inequalities in distribution of space and other resources, salaries, and distribution of awards and other forms of recognition. Currently, a glass ceiling exists within many departments…” These woman of science had spent their lives trying to progress professionally with diligence and dedication only to be faced with discrimination because of their gender as they looked up to see the glass ceiling above them. They too were entitled to the well-deserved compensations as well as the acknowledgement and recognition for their hard work including higher salaries.
Whereas, the researchers of an article written for reporting the 2004-05 on the economic status of the profession regarding women and non-tenure-track faculty members did not account for gender bias in their respective studies. It began by addressing the optimism for women and the potential of an increased salary but, then continued to reflect on the economic status of average salaries depending on the institution whether it be public or private. It divided the issue into full time/part time, tenure, contingent faculty and the president’s salary while touching on gender equality pay. As stated in the report, “The AAUP Research Office plans to publish such an analysis in the coming year to allow faculty to evaluate local progress toward gender equity and work with administrative leaders to address specific campus issues that arise from the analysis. In the end, an aggregate analysis such as that presented here can only point to potential issues. Real progress toward gender equity requires continuous attention to actual hiring, promotion, tenure, and salary decisions.” Nowhere in the article was gender bias mentioned, the effects of it, the conditions resulting from it or how to resolve this serious issue at hand.
In conclusion, gender bias began with the patriarchal concept that women should know their place in society, be home taking care of their husbands and children and that little girls are meant to look cute and leave subjects of math and other technical areas to the boys. Although, research is becoming more apparent about addressing these stereotypical role issues we still have a long way to go in fighting discrimination and the equality for the female gender.
American Association of University Professors (2005). 2004-05 Report on the economic status of the profession: Inequities persist for women and non-tenure-track faculty. Retrieved, January 26, 2011, from http://aaup.org/AAUP/comm/rep/Z/ecstatreport2004-05/
Childs, R. A. (1990). Gender bias and fairness. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 2(3). Retrieved January 28, 2011, from http://pareonline.net/getvn.asp?v=2&n=3