Unconscious Gender Bias in Academia: from PhD Students to Professors

K. Poppenhaeger

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

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In an academic landscape where female physicists are still strongly underrepresented, underlying causes like unconscious gender bias deserve specific attention. Members of academia are often not aware of their intrinsic, hence unconscious, biases; this can have negative effects on students and staff at all career levels. At the Queen's University Belfast, I have developed and conducted a workshop on unconscious gender bias awareness at the School of Mathematics and Physics. The first installment of the workshop was attended by 63 members of the School, among them 26 academic staff (lecturer level and above). Participants attended an informational talk followed by a discussion session, and then took part in the Harvard Implicit Association Test for association of gender with science. The participants self-reported their results and their previous expectations, followed by a group discussion. Here I present the observed magnitude of unconscious gender bias and summarise the discussion points of the participants. The outcomes that bias can have on the success of physics students as well as the careers of physicists in an academic context will be highlighted. Putting the results into context, I discuss steps forward to make physics a level playing field for all genders.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 6th International Conference on Women in Physics
PublisherAIP Publishing LLC
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - 01 Dec 2017

Publication series

NameAIP Conference Proceedings
ISSN (Print)0094-243X

Bibliographical note

4 pages, 2 figures; accepted for publication in the peer-reviewed Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Women in Physics (2017)


  • physics.soc-ph


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