AuthorHunter, Laura Ann
Committee ChairLeahey, Erin
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractWomen remain noticeably underrepresented in science despite remarkable gains in other fields, and in this dissertation, I posit that biased assessments of competence are a mechanism for fewer women pursuing - and succeeding in - science. Drawing from status characteristic theory, I expect that women will be assessed - and assess themselves - as less competent in science than men, which will in turn affect important career decisions and outcomes. In Chapter 2, I test whether similar women and men differ in their self-assessments of their scientific competence using an experimental design. As expected, women evaluated themselves as less competent than similar men when receiving the same feedback about their scientific aptitude. Because self-assessments of competence affect career-relevant decisions, women also reported significantly lower likelihoods of pursuing science-related education and careers, although the effect of gender is no longer significant once self-assessments are controlled for. The results suggest that biased self-assessments of competence are a mechanism for fewer women entering science to begin with. In Chapter 3, I conduct an experiment embedded within a survey to test whether a scientist's gender affects competence assessments made by peers, and whether competence assessments in turn affect important career outcomes, such as hiring support and remuneration. The results suggest that women in science face barriers in getting hired and in the rewards they garner for their careers, even when they are seen as equally competent as men. Because women face these disadvantages even when controlling for competence assessments, alternative mechanisms should be investigated. In Chapter 4, I shift theoretical and empirical focus to investigate how the gender of a scientist directing a scientific job affects evaluations of the job itself. Drawing from devaluation theory, I predict that a scientific job directed by a woman would be given less favorable evaluations. Indeed, the results indicate that when a job is directed by a woman rather than a man, it is seen as less prestigious, exciting, interesting, and valuable. The implications of the results and future avenues of research are discussed.