Scientists strive to be objective in their peer review of grant applications and manuscript submissions. However, the threat to objectivity comes from all humans because they are all susceptible to biases in decision-making. But does this bias differ based on gender? This topic was brought to us by The Scholarly Kitchen in their post,”Gender Bias in Peer Review: An Interview with Brooks Hanson and Jory Lerback.”

Despite the large number of women who have entered science since 1972 when the United States government passed Title IX legislation prohibiting gender discrimination in education, science remains a male dominated arena.

Research shows that though explicit gender bias still exists, implicit or unconscious gender bias is more destructive as it enables well-intended people to perpetuate inequalities. There is this assumption and association of science with males. It would also make one wonder if given the impact of gender stereotypes on judgment, that grant reviewers are unknowingly demonstrating bias when it comes to competence standards. This would mean a female applicant would need to demonstrate more proof of ability to earn the same assessment of competence as a male applicant.

There is certainly an opportunity here for scholarly publishers to work together to reduce or eliminate bias in peer review environments in the future.

Melody K. Smith

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