Why Men Don’t Believe the Data on Gender Bias in Science

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Earlier this summer Google engineer James Damore posted a treatise about gender differences on an internal company message board and was subsequently fired. The memo ignited a firestorm of debate about sex discrimination in Silicon Valley; this followed months of reporting on accusations of harassment at Uber and elsewhere. Sex discrimination and harassment in tech, and in science more broadly, is a major reason why women leave the field. Nationally, there has long been handwringing about why women are underrepresented in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), which has led to calls for increased mentoring, better family leave policies, and workshops designed to teach women how to negotiate like men.

Last month three senior researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla filed lawsuits complaining of long-term gender discrimination; the complaints allege that women don’t have equal access to internal funding and promotions. These lawsuits highlight the real reason for the lack of women in science: Leaders in the field—men and sometimes women—simply don’t believe that women are as good at doing science.

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