Managers need to get over their math bias

Close your eyes and picture a mathematician. What does this person look like? Is the individual male or female? If you are a hiring manager, you likely said “male.” Even though it is ridiculous to think that men are better at math, science or engineering than women (and it is something that very few hiring mangers would be willing to say aloud), the fact of the matter is that many people in the position to hire individuals to perform math-based functions have a bias for men.

There are federal and state laws that protect against gender discrimination in New York City. If someone was not hired because of his or her gender, he or she can work with an employment law attorney to file a workplace discrimination lawsuit. Not only does it compensate the wronged applicant, but it also shines a light on a company’s outdated and discriminatory practices.

In a paper published in the Proceedings from the National Academy of Sciences, professors conducted a series of experiments in which individuals were told to hire people to perform mathematical tasks. These “managers” were not allowed to interview the individuals or see their credentials, all they ostensibly had were pictures. Based on appearance alone, managers were twice as likely to hire men than women.

Even when the managers were given background on the candidates, including their ability to complete the mathematical tasks, the managers still chose men 1 1/2 times more often than women.

If someone is concerned that he or she did not get a job based on his or her gender, it is important to work with an attorney who can help build a case for a workplace discrimination lawsuit.

Source: The Boston Globe, “Math bias seen in hiring of women,” Shaila Dewan, March 11, 2014

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