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Positive bias for European men in peer reviewed applications for faculty position at Karolinska Institutet.


ABSTRACT: Background: Sweden is viewed as an egalitarian country, still most of the professors are Swedish and only 25% are women. Research competence is evaluated using peer review, which is regarded as an objective measure in the meritocracy system. Here we update the investigation by Wold & Wennerås (1997) on women researcher's success rate for obtaining a faculty position, by examining factors (gender, nationality, productivity, etc.) in applications for an Assistant Professorship in 2014 at Karolinska Institutet. Methods: Fifty-six applications, 26 Swedish and 21 women applicants, were scored both on merits and projects by six external reviewers. Additional variables, including grants and academic age, calculated as the number of years since PhD excluding parental or sick leave, were gathered. Productivity was assessed by calculating a composite bibliometric score based on six factors (citations, publications, first/last authorships, H-index, high impact publication). Results: Overall, academic age was negatively correlated with scores on merits, as assessed by peer review, although not reaching statistical significance. In men, associations between scores on merits and productivity ( P-value=0.0004), as well as having received grants ( P-value=0.009) were seen. No associations were found for women. Moreover, applicants with a background from the Middle East were un-proportionally found in the lowest quartile (Fisher exact test P-value=0.007). Conclusions: In summary, the gender inequality shown in peer review processes in Sweden 20 years ago still exists. Furthermore, a bias for ethnicity was found. In order to keep the best scientific competence in academia, more efforts are needed to avoid selection bias in assessments to enable equal evaluations of all researchers.

PROVIDER: S-EPMC6092899 | BioStudies |

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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