9 March 2018

Proportion of female professors lower due to gender discrimination

In a new paper, Dr Giulio Marini shows that gender discrimination occurs in the path to promotion to full professor in Italian universities.

The study, The trench warfare of gender discrimination: evidence from academic promotions to full professor in Italy, analyses data from 2013-16. The findings show that women aiming for the rank of professor suffered discrimination not explained by poorer scientific productivity, and men were 24% more likely than women to be promoted.

Dr Marini notes that the reasons for this discrimination are unclear and may be due to a lack of transparency in universities. He also hypothesises that discrimination based on gender may differ according to the percentage of women already at full professor rank.

The findings have implications for theory about inequality regimes and how to improve practices at institutional level. More research is needed to further understand on which basis this discrimination is built and how it happens. Dr Marini calls for the adoption of gender equality policies, or at least more transparency, to bridge a gender gap that he argues will not solve itself.