Prejudiced rating

Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

THOUGH Sweden has been named by the UN as the world leader in gender equality, women scientists of the country have to be several times more productive than their male counterparts in order to get equal scores while applying for research grants. Christine Wenneras, a microbiologist, and Agnes Wold, an immunologist, from Gothenburg University, came to the conclusion that women scientists tend to be only half as successful as men in the competition for postdoctoral fellowships at Sweden's Medical Research Council.

The two researchers got access to documents containing evaluation scores only after a court battle and with the aid of Sweden's freedom of information legislation. The scores are given on the basis of the impact of a scientist's published work, which is measured by the number of times the work is cited by other scientists in a year. The documents revealed that for the 1995 batch of postdoctoral fellowships, the peer review committees rated women lower than men in the categories of scientific competence, relevance of proposals and the proposed methodology, even though they had the same publication impact.

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