Rational Discussion of Controversial Topics
Economics Education Ethics Foreign Policy Government History Politics Religion Science

Is there a scientific way to prove or disprove discrimination in the academy?

Alice          7 November 2015 12:08 PM

The demographics of the STEM fields are very different from the general population. Is there an objective test which can determine whether the difference is at least partially due to discrimination?

Do you find this topic interesting?
-2 -1 0 +1 +2


Recommended for You Optimates Populares Centrists

Show comments            Sort by        

melian 12 November 2015 02:26 PM

This article may be relevant.


is4junk 8 November 2015 12:47 PM

Any reason to single out STEM when the whole academy is out of balance in terms of gender?


VoiceOfRa 8 November 2015 07:27 PM


Think about what it means to be biased. What it means for a selection process to be biased against applicants of type x is that it's harder for them to make it through. Which means applicants of type x have to be better to get selected than applicants not of type x. [1] Which means applicants of type x who do make it through the selection process will outperform other successful applicants. And if the performance of all the successful applicants is measured, you'll know if they do.

Of course, the test you use to measure performance must be a valid one. And in particular it must not be invalidated by the bias you're trying to measure. But there are some domains where performance can be measured, and in those detecting bias is straightforward. Want to know if the selection process was biased against some type of applicant? Check whether they outperform the others. This is not just a heuristic for detecting bias. It's what bias means.