The paper explores the recent debate on the question of direct evaluative discrimination against women in academia. One side of this debate advocates – via scholars such as Virginia Valian, Jennifer Saul, Louise Antony, Corinne A. Moss-Racusin, or Christine Wennerås and Agnes Wold – the hypothesis of „systematic and pervasive” direct undervaluation of women academics’ scientific qualifications, achievements, and performances, presenting this hypothesis as one of the main possible explanations for women’s severe underrepresentation in academia in the developed countries, and in math intensive disciplines like STEM – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – or in philosophy. The other side advocates – especially via scholars like Stephen J. Ceci and Wendy M. Williams – the hypothesis that gender discrimination in academic evaluation is, in fact, only a problem of the past, not a current one. Which hypothesis is most plausible and best supported by the available evidence? Are indeed current women academics so systematically and pervasively (directly) undervalued as some scholars hypothesize? Or is the best evidence currently available pointing in the other direction? In trying to answer such questions, in this paper I review the evidence (and the main limitations of the evidence) for each hypothesis. I conclude that best supported by the relevant body of evidence is the hypothesis of systematic and pervasive (direct) evaluative bias against women academics being most likely only a problem of the past, not a current one.


direct evaluative discrimination, women, academia, underrepresentation


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