“Scientist” is such an admired profession that even just wearing a lab coat has been shown to make people feel and act smarter. But within the field, the admiration isn’t evenly distributed — at least according to a new Dutch study.
As in, according to the thousands of American and international scientists surveyed in the paper, older, female practitioners were rated higher on objectivity, open-mindedness, rationality, and intelligence than their younger and male peers. The gaps got even bigger in the responses of female scientists.
The results indicate that while old men may fit the stereotype of the well-respected scientist, the people who do science think that women best fit the “storybook image” of the good scientist, reason Tilburg University statistician Coosje Veldkamp and colleagues. “In addition,” they write, “our research suggests that scientists are not immune to the human tendency to believe that members of one’s own social group are less fallible than members of other groups.”
While it’s certainly a sign of progress that female scientists are so respected around the world, the sciences still have an extreme glass ceiling at the very top. To date, only 17 Nobel Prizes in medicine, chemistry, or physics have been given to women, with just Marie Curie winning twice. In 2016, none were women.