Hostname: page-component-6b989bf9dc-vmcqm Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-04-14T07:55:14.071Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

How Dissent on Gender Bias in Academia Affects Science and Society: Learning from the Case of Climate Change Denial

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2022

Abstract

Gender bias is a recalcitrant problem in academia and society. However, dissent has been created on this issue. We focus on dissenting studies by Stephen J. Ceci and Wendy M. Williams, arguing that they reach conclusions that are unwarranted on the basis of the available evidence and that they ignore fundamental objections to their methodological decisions. Drawing on discussions from other contexts, particularly on manufactured dissent concerning anthropogenic climate change, we conclude that dissent on gender bias substantially contributes to (a) the exacerbation of biases in society and (b) an increasing number of attacks on researchers, making it both epistemically and socially problematic.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright 2021 by the Philosophy of Science Association. All rights reserved.

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Footnotes

We would particularly like to thank Uljana Feest, Dan Hicks, Philip Kitcher, Carole Lee, Robert Mitchell, Kristina Rolin, Torsten Wilholt, and three anonymous referees of this journal for valuable comments. Earlier versions were presented at the SPSP 2018 in Ghent and at the GAP10 2018 in Cologne. Anna Leuschner’s research for this article was funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft as part of the research training group GRK 2073 Integrating Ethics and Epistemology of Scientific Research. Each author is responsible for the article in its entirety, and both authors contributed equally to the final product.

References

AAUP (American Association of University Professors). 2017. “National Security, the Assault on Science, and Academic Freedom.” .Google Scholar
AAUP (American Association of University Professors). 2018. “50 Cases of Targeted Harassment.” .Google Scholar
Andreassen, Rikke, and Myong, Lene. 2017. “Gender, Race, and Researcher Positionality Analysed through Memory Work.” Nordic Journal of Migration Research 7 (2): 97104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Benderly, Beryl Lieff. 2015. “Women Have a Hiring Advantage in the Scientific Stratosphere.” Science Online, April 29. .CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bero, Lisa, and Rennie, Drummond. 1996. “Influences on the Quality of Published Drug Studies.” International Journal of Technology Assessment in Health Care 12 (2): 209–37.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Biddle, Justin, Kidd, Ian J., and Leuschner, Anna. 2017. “Epistemic Corruption and Manufactured Doubt: The Case of Climate Science.” Public Affairs Quarterly 31 (3): 165–87.Google Scholar
Biddle, Justin, and Leuschner, Anna. 2015. “Climate Skepticism and the Manufacture of Doubt: Can Dissent in Science Be Epistemically Detrimental?European Journal for Philosophy of Science 5 (3): 261–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bradley, Raymond. 2011. Global Warming and Political Intimidation: How Politicians Cracked Down on Scientists as the Earth Heated Up. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.Google Scholar
Brennan, Samantha. 2013. “Rethinking the Moral Significance of Micro-Inequities: The Case of Women in Philosophy.” In Hutchison and Jenkins 2013, 180–96.Google Scholar
Bright, Liam Kofi. 2017. “Decision Theoretic Model of the Productivity Gap.” Erkenntnis 82:421–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Brownstein, Michael. 2015. “Michael Brownstein on Williams and Ceci.” Feminist Philosophers Blog, April 15. .Google Scholar
Brownstein, Michael, and Jennifer Saul, eds. 2016. Implicit Bias and Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Brysse, Keynyn, Oreskes, Naomi, O’Reilly, Jessica, and Oppenheimer, Michael. 2013. “Climate Change Prediction: Erring on the Side of Least Drama.” Global Environmental Change 23 (1): 327–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bug, Amy. 2010. “Swimming against the Unseen Tide.” Physics World 23 (8): 1617.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Card, David, DellaVigna, Stefano, Funk, Patricia, and Iriberri, Nagore. 2020. “Are Referees and Editors in Economics Gender Neutral?Quarterly Journal of Economics 135 (1): 269327.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Carrier, Martin. 2018. “Identifying Agnotological Ploys: How to Stay Clear of Unjustified Dissent.” In Philosophy of Science between the Natural Sciences, the Social Sciences, and the Humanities, ed. Christian, Alexander, Hommen, David, Retzlaff, Nina, and Schurz, Gerhard, 155–69. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
Ceci, Stephen J., Ginther, Donna K., Kahn, Shulamit, and Williams, Wendy M. 2014. “Women in Academic Science: A Changing Landscape.” Psychological Science in the Public Interest 15 (3): 75141.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Ceci, Stephen J., and Williams, Wendy M. 2011. “Understanding Current Causes of Women’s Underrepresentation in Science.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 108:3157–62.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Ceci, Stephen J., and Williams, Wendy M. 2015a. “Describing Applicants in Gendered Language Might Influence Academic Science Hiring.” American Scientist, March 7. .Google Scholar
Ceci, Stephen J., and Williams, Wendy M. 2015b. “Passions Supplant Reason in Dialogue on Women in Science.” Chronicle of Higher Education, September 10. .Google Scholar
Ceci, Stephen J., and Williams, Wendy M. 2018. “Psychology and Free Speech.” Inside Higher Ed, May 2. .Google Scholar
Cesario, Sebastian. 2017. “Gender Bias in STEM: An Example of Biased Research?” Quillette, August 29. Accessed June 15, 2020. .Google Scholar
Cole, Jonathan R. 1987. Fair Science: Women in the Scientific Community. Repr. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
Crouch, Margaret A., and Schwartzman, Lisa H., eds. 2012. “Gender, Implicit Bias, and Philosophical Methodology.” Special issue, Journal of Social Philosophy 43 (3): 205362.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
de Melo-Martín, Inmaculada, and Intemann, Kristen. 2014. “Who’s Afraid of Dissent? Addressing Concerns about Undermining Scientific Consensus in Public Policy Developments.” Perspectives on Science 22 (4): 593615.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
de Melo-Martín, Inmaculada, and Intemann, Kristen. 2018. The Fight against Doubt: How to Bridge the Gap between Scientists and the Public. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Deng, Boer. 2015. “Leading Scientists Favour Women in Tenure-Track Hiring Test.” Nature 520:275–76.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Dotson, Kristie. 2011a. “Concrete Flowers: Contemplating the Profession of Philosophy.” Hypatia 26 (2): 403–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Dotson, Kristie. 2011b. “Tracking Epistemic Violence, Tracking Practices of Silencing.” Hypatia 26 (2): 236–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Dunlap, Riley. 2013. “Climate Change Skepticism and Denial: An Introduction.” American Behavioral Scientist 57 (6): 691–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Elliott, Kevin. 2011. Is a Little Pollution Good for You? Incorporating Societal Values in Environmental Research. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ferber, Abby. 2018. “New Methods and Consequences of Right-Wing Attacks on Professors.” Gender and Society, June 21. .Google Scholar
Fernández Pinto, Manuela. 2019. “Scientific Ignorance: Probing the Limits of Scientific Research and Knowledge Production.” THEORIA: An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science 34 (2): 195211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gillam, Carey. 2017. Whitewash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer, and the Corruption of Science. Washington, DC: Island.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Greenwald, Anthony, Banaji, Mahzarin, and Nosek, Brian. 2015. “Statistically Small Effects of the Implicit Association Test Can Have Societally Large Effects.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 108:553–61.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Handley, Ian M., Brown, Elizabeth R., Moss-Racusin, Corinne A., and Smith, Jessi L. 2015. “Quality of Evidence Revealing Subtle Gender Biases in Science Is in the Eye of the Beholder.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112 (43): 13201–6.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Hengel, Erin. 2017. “Publishing While Female: Are Women Held to Higher Standards? Evidence from Peer Review.” Cambridge Working Paper in Economics no. 1753.Google Scholar
Hutchison, Katrina, and Fiona Jenkins, eds. 2013. Women in Philosophy: What Needs to Change? Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kaplan, Sarah. 2015. “Study Finds, Surprisingly, That Women Are Favored for Jobs in STEM.” Washington Post, April 14. .Google Scholar
Kitcher, Philip. 2001. Science, Truth, and Democracy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Knobloch-Westerwick, Silvia, Glynn, Carroll J., and Huge, Michael. 2013. “The Matilda Effect in Science Communication: An Experiment on Gender Bias in Publication Quality Perceptions and Collaboration Interest.” Science Communication 35 (5): 603–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lahsen, Myanna. 2008. “Experiences of Modernity in the Greenhouse: A Cultural Analysis of a Physicist ‘Trio’ Supporting the Backlash against Global Warming.” Global Environmental Change 18:204–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Le Bihan, Soazig, and Amadi, Iheanyi. 2017. “On Epistemically Detrimental Dissent: Contingent Enabling Factors versus Stable Difference-Makers.” Philosophy of Science 84 (5): 1020–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lee, Carole J. 2016. “Revisiting Current Causes of Women’s Underrepresentation in Science.” In Brownstein and Saul 2016, 165282.Google Scholar
Lee, Carole J., and Schunn, Christian D. 2011. “Social Biases and Solutions for Procedural Objectivity.” Hypatia 26 (2): 352–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Leslie, Sarah-Jane, Cimpian, Andrei, Meyer, Meredith, and Freeland, Edward. 2015. “Expectations of Brilliance Underlie Gender Distributions across Academic Disciplines.” Science 347 (6219): 262–65.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Leuschner, Anna. 2018. “Is It Appropriate to ‘Target’ Inappropriate Dissent? On the Normative Consequences of Climate Skepticism.” Synthese 195:1255–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Leuschner, Anna. 2019. “Why So Low? On Indirect Effects of Gender Bias in Philosophy.” Metaphilosophy 50 (3): 231–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lewandowsky, Stephen, Oreskes, Naomi, Risbey, James S., Newell, Ben R., and Smithson, Michael. 2015. “Seepage: Climate Change Denial and Its Effect on the Scientific Community.” Global Environmental Change 33:113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Longino, Helen. 2002. The Fate of Knowledge. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Markowitz, Gerald, and Rosner, David. 2013. Deceit and Denial: The Deadly Politics of Industrial Pollution. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
McGarity, Thomas, and Wagner, Wendy. 2008. Bending Science. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
Medimorec, Srdan, and Pennycook, Gordon. 2015. “The Language of Denial: Text Analysis Reveals Differences in Language Use between Climate Change Proponents and Skeptics.” Climatic Change 133:597605.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Michaels, David. 2008. Doubt Is Their Product: How Industry’s Assault on Science Threatens Your Health. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Monroe, Kristen, Ozyurt, Saba, Wrigley, Ted, and Alexander, Amy C. 2008. “Gender Equality in Academia: Bad News from the Trenches, and Some Possible Solutions.” Perspectives on Politics 6 (2): 215–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Moss-Racusin, Corinne, Dovidio, John, Brescoll, Victoria, Graham, Mark, and Handelsman, Jo. 2012. “Science Faculty’s Subtle Gender Biases Favor Male Students.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 109:16474–79.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Nash, Erin. 2018. “In Defense of ‘Targeting’ Some Dissent about Science.” Perspectives on Science 26 (3): 325–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Nosek, Brian, et al. 2009. “National Differences in Gender-Science Stereotypes Predict National Sex Differences in Science and Math Achievement.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106 (26): 10593–97.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
NSB (National Science Board). 2018. “Science and Engineering Indicators, 2018.” NSB-2018-1, National Science Foundation, Alexandria, VA. .Google Scholar
NSF (National Science Foundation). 2019. “Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering, 2019.” Special Report NSF 19-304, NSF, Alexandria, VA. .Google Scholar
O’Connor, Cailin, and Weatherall, James Owen. 2019. The Misinformation Age: How False Beliefs Spread. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Oreskes, Naomi, and Conway, Erik. 2010. Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. New York: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
Pololi, Linda H., Civian, Janet T., Brennan, Robert T., Dottolo, Andrea L., and Krupat, Edward. 2013. “Experiencing the Culture of Academic Medicine: Gender Matters, a National Study.” Journal of General Internal Medicine 28 (2): 201–7.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Proctor, Robert. 2012. Golden Holocaust: Origins of the Cigarette Catastrophe and the Case for Abolition. Berkeley: University of California Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Reuben, Ernesto, Sapienza, Paola, and Zingalesc, Luigi. 2014. “How Stereotypes Impair Women’s Careers in Science.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111 (12): 4403–8.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Rolin, Kristina. 2006. “The Bias Paradox in Feminist Standpoint Epistemology.” Episteme 3 (1–2): 125–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Roos, Patricia A., and Gatta, Mary L. 2009. “Gender (In)equity in the Academy: Subtle Mechanisms and the Production of Inequality.” Research in Social Stratification and Mobility 27 (3): 177200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sheltzer, Jason, and Smith, Joan. 2014. “Elite Male Faculty in the Life Sciences Employ Fewer Women.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111 (28): 10107–12.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Sonnert, Gerhard, and Holton, Gerald. 1995. Who Succeeds in Science? The Gender Dimension. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
Steinpreis, Rhea E., Anders, Katie A., and Ritzke, Dawn. 1999. “The Impact of Gender on the Review of the Curricula Vitae of Job Applicants and Tenure Candidates: A National Empirical Study.” Sex Roles 41 (7/8): 509–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Valian, Virginia. 1998. Why So Slow? The Advancement of Women. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
VanDerwarker, Amber M., Brown, Kaitlin M., Gonzalez, Toni, and Radde, Hugh. 2018. “The UCSB Gender Equity Project: Taking Stock of Mentorship, Equity, and Harassment in California Archaeology through Qualitative Survey Data.” California Archaeology 10 (2): 131–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Williams, Joan, Hall, Erika V., and Philips, Katherine Williams. 2014. “Double Jeopardy? Gender Bias against Women of Color in Science.” Technical report, University of California, Hastings, College of the Law. .Google Scholar
Williams, Joan, and Smith, Jessie. 2015. “The Myth That Academic Science Isn’t Biased against Women.” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 8. .Google Scholar
Williams, Wendy. 2015. “Women Scientists’ Academic-Hiring Advantage is Unwelcome News for Some.” Pts. 1–5. Huffington Post, May. .Google Scholar
Williams, Wendy M., and Ceci, Stephen J. 2014. “Academic Science Isn’t Sexist.” New York Times, October 31. .Google Scholar
Williams, Wendy M., and Ceci, Stephen J. 2015a. “The Myth about Women in Science.” CNN, April 13. .Google Scholar
Williams, Wendy M., and Ceci, Stephen J. 2015b. “National Hiring Experiments Reveal 2:1 Faculty Preference for Women on STEM Tenure Track.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112 (17): 5360–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Winsberg, Eric. 2018. Philosophy and Climate Science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Zevallos, Zuleyka. 2014. “Sexism in Academic Science: Analysis of The New York Times Op-Ed.” STEM Women, November 6. .Google Scholar
Zevallos, Zuleyka. 2015. “The Myth about Women in Science? Bias in the Study of Gender Inequality in STEM.” Other Sociologist, April 16. .Google Scholar