Selection committees for academic recruitment: does gender matter?

Giovanni Abramo, Ciriaco Andrea D'Angelo, Francesco Rosati

Underrepresentation of women in the academic system is a problem common to many countries, often associated with gender discrimination. In the Italian academic context in particular, favoritism is recognized as a diffuse phenomenon affecting hiring and career advancement. One of the questions that naturally arises is whether women who do assume decisional roles, having witnessed other phenomena of discrimination, would practice less favoritism than men in similar positions. Our analysis refers to the particular case of favoritism in the work of university selection committees responsible for career advancement. We observe a moderate positive association between competitions with expected outcomes and the fact the committee president is a woman. Although committees presided by women give more weight to scientific merit than those presided by men, favoritism still occurs. In fact, in the case the committee president is a woman, the single most important factor for the success of a candidate is joint research with the president; while in the case of male presidents, it is the years together in the same university.

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