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The problem with people in positions of power in academia

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In academia , there is a clear problem with gender unbalance . The unbalance is a fact, especially true for STEM disciplines, and almost universal. Many researchers acknowledge that it is a problem and that something must be done to correct it. One of the problems is that grants and positions are given based on metrics that favor men.

Now, when I say are given , I actually mean that someone made a decision. There is a person who goes through the CV of the applicant and assigns points or emits a verdict. That person, who in that moment holds a lot of power, is able to correct for the systemic bias. But do they do it? (see this tweet by Andrea Baldi ). See: the hidden power of individual reviewers

Researchers in positions of power normally lack the courage to actively decide. They excuse themselves saying 'the rules of the game'. I say fuck the game. You can make a change, just do it! And I believe it is this lack of individual empowerment that is detrimental for the scientific collective. It is the professor reviewing a grant or a tenure application, seated in a comfy chair, probably behind the wall of anonymity, that in the moment in which they can make a difference they claim to work unbiased .

Even if people hide the names of the applicants, they will fall prey of the myth of the double blind , which lacks acknowledging that men and women are not operating in a leveled playing field.

And people in position of power in academia appear at different stages and with different roles. It may be a reviewer, but it may also be a conference organizer (see: 202011271124 and limit the number of male speakers in conferences ).

A generalized issue, I believe, is that most men in positions of power do not stop to think, reflect, engage in meaningful discussions, nor seek external help. Which is completely in line with the idea that if you are the problem, you can't be the solution .

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Aquiles Carattino
Aquiles Carattino
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