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Great, important discussion. One thing confuses me. Dr. Jussim's arguments seem to suggest that the answer to whether bias exists is a straightforward "yes or no," based on people's intentional actions.

A post by Dr. Sanjay Srivastava does a great job of explaining the nuances of what I mean:

Josh E.

Introductory Note: I attempted to post this at RabbleRouser's blog, but it appears he has turned off comments on the post. My comment is below.
Although I respect the phlegmatic approach both of you took to this discussion, I must disagree with Dr. Vazire's acceptance of your comments, Dr. Jussim.

You do make two good points: 1) There is insufficient research into the harm done to women by their underrepresentation; and 2) there is an unequal Liberal representation in academia.

Otherwise, these comments are rife with false equivalencies and dated defenses of majority privilege. False equivalence example---The presentation of point 2 in parallel with point 1. This would only be annoying if it did not also undermine Dr. Vazire's evidence for a systematic disenfranchisement of women in social psychology (i.e., the "leaky pipeline," etc.) and reinforce the efforts of those who would suggest there is no problem. The former is unintentionally damaging, and the latter is insidious.

We don't know what we don't know, so we have great difficulty assessing the impact of gender discrimination before we have stable equality. The best we can do is highlight gaps that are apparent. The Stanford Prison Experiment is an example. Would women behave the same way in that situation? It was a women (his graduate student) who told Zimbardo he had to stop the study, despite her direct and inferior professional position. Perhaps women would have followed orders but not elaborated their role. We don't know how gender might have affected it because women were excluded.

Dr. Jussim, with the gentle tone of someone who is only a little farther down this path, I urge that you educate yourself how enfranchised privilege entrenches itself before you say or do something that causes you professional harm. It is no one's responsibility but your own to do so. At the very least, your present lack of self-awareness is serving to reify the gender bias still present in the field, and as you know, lack of knowledge is not a defense.

There is an article on WeeklySift that describes this artfully. It is titled "The Distress of the Privileged." Perhaps a careful read of this explanation could change the way you view these issues. Best, Josh

Lee Jussim

I cannot help but point out that the two commentaries you have so far received, Simine, have clearly interpreted the mere bringing up of a numerical disparity as evidence of discrimination and bias.

Apparently, I am not alone in interpreting that as a strong, if unarticulated, implication of the argument.

I note two things here: 1. Nowhere did I say anything declaring all bias to be intentional, and I am clueless as to how anyone could get there from my posts; and 2. The implied threat in the second comment, "I urge you to educate yourself ... before you do something that causes you professional harm" and the explicit insult, "At the very least, your present lack of self-awareness..." is exactly the type of comment that creates exactly the type of anti-scientific political climate that serves to stifle dissent.

Fortunately, I have gotten so much histrionic blowback for making eminently empirically justified claims for so long, that, basically, for me, it is water off a duck's back -- but it
is EXACTLY the type of discourse that creates exactly the type of chilly climate in social psychology that serves to suppress reasonable discussion and even scientific research that contests narratives of oppression.

This is exactly the type of comment Ledgerwood et al complain about in the next post on your site, Simine, when referring to "Nut up or shut up."

Interestingly, in that next post, Ledgerwood et al explicitly declare that they have made no claims about discrimination. And yet, your comment-makers are clearly interpreting that line of argument as exactly such evidence.

Two last things: I note that your two commenters show an appalling obliviousness to the data. The future of social psychology is about 2:1 women:men. Just look at the table, from undergrads and early career and associate professors.

If a 2:1 male:female ratio in the scientific integrity discussions constitutes any evidence of anything pernicious (call it what you will, bias, discrimination, "actions that alienate women," etc.), then what do you all make of the 2:1 female:male ratio among the future of the field?

If such a 2:1 female:male difference constitutes anti-female sexism, what, then, I ask of all your readers, would constitute evidence of pro-female favoritism? 75% women? 90% 99.999%? Or is the hypothesis of sexism not disconfirmable? If there is no data that could disconfirm it, then it is nondisconfirmable. If it is not disconfirmable, then it is not a scientific claim.

If there is data that could disconfirm the anti-female sexism hypothesis, I ask those of you who believe it applies to either the scientific integrity discussion in particular or the field of social psychology more generally: Could you articulate what that data would be?

I note here that the person suggesting that I "educate myself" provided no resources or references. I won't make the same mistake, and request that anyone interested in thoughtfully addressing these issues first read the following papers:

2011 Ceci, SJ, & Williams, W. (2011). Understanding current causes of women's underrepresentation in science. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108, 3157-3162.

2015 Duarte, J. L., Crawford, J. T., Stern, C., Haidt, J., Jussim, L., & Tetlock, P. Political diversity will improve social and personality psychological science. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, in press.

2012 Jussim, L. Liberal privilege in academic psychology and the social sciences. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 7, 504-507.

2015 Winegard, B., Winegard, B., & Geary, D. C. Too paranoid to see progress: Social psychology is probably liberal but it doesn't believe in progress. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, in press.


Lee Jussim

P.S. Despite the tone of the comments, I would not want you to take them down (not that you would have anyway). I like having them there as a written record.


Hi Dr. Jussim,

I (first commenter) did not actually suggest that a numerical disparity is clear evidence of any phenomenon. Rather, the post I linked to, like the new guest post on this blog, suggests that diversity is inherently valuable. And, since there is a lack of diversity, it is worth exploring why this might be the case. Input from women and minorities explains ways they feel disenfranchised. Do you have a problem with working toward creating more inclusive environments? I guess I'm confused. Is your argument simply that "numerical disparity [is not inherently] evidence of discrimination and bias"? I doubt anyone would disagree with that.

Lee Jussim

Hey, Carol, I kinda feel like I had my say, and it is not really appropriate for me to dominate the conversation over here on Simine's blog. However, if you want to contact me on my blogsite, where I addressed these same issues:
I'd be happy to respond.

Sorry it has taken so long (I had a family emergency which was sorta draining, and which could be viewed as politically as this entire conversation -- but I will hold off doing that here).

I have no idea why the other respondent here was unable to post his comment on my site. I most certainly did not turn comments off -- I love comments.

I just logged in to my site from a different email and had no trouble posting a comment (the "test" comment, which now comes second) and I will leave up for a couple of days then take down.

Hope to hear from you soon (over there). Just repost your entire comment here, and anything else you would like to add. And please be patient, I will reply, but it may take a few days or a week, depending on whatever else is going on.

Josh E.

Dr. Jussim,

Note: I posted this some time ago, but it never appeared.

I (the second commentor) also would like to follow-up about your response. The basic problem is that your discussion---whether you mean for it to be or not---is advocacy to reinforce deep biases that function at all levels of society, more from your elaboration than from your basic assertion. If you had read the source I referred you to (which you apparently missed), you would have a better understanding of my reaction to your entire discussion---and the reason for my caution to you about your professional reputation. Your discussion suggests that you do not understand the concept of "privileged distress" or you would understand that I was not submitting you to "histrionic blowback" (incidentally, an explicitly sexist phrase that you should avoid). I was attempting to help you understand that you were viewing this issue through a biased lens that ignored the influence of power and control dynamics on society. The intimation that we only want to apply this to groups "we care about" indicates poor understanding of the nature of societal marginalization and accompanying discrimination. That bias in your thinking can harm you professionally, especially when you take up topics like this. What you perceived as insult was not. Like the rest of us, you do not know what you do not know until you learn it. At the very least, it would be good for you to understand how your arguments parallel those of people who would like to maintain discriminatory practices. (See "The Distress of the Privileged" and the reference on injunctification below.)

Moving on, and to be direct, it is poor scientific practice to decontextualize data. You are suggesting that a number disparity alone (a single data point) does not indicate discrimination. While strictly true (though I would argue that decontextualized data is worthless), this is gross reductionism, and a theoretical point with little practical use except as a component of the argument to maintain the status quo. You are correct in only the strictest possible condition of your assertion. Moreover, you again are overly reductionistic in reviewing the membership of SPSP, ignoring the "leaky pipeline" trend that Dr. Vazire raised. A numerical disparity is, itself, one of the strongest indicators of discrimination in the context of a socially robust power differential. When disparities grow more pronounced in contact with a system (as illustrated in this and the new blog post), the numbers become evidence of institutional discrimination. (Discrimination arises from prejudice, which does not have to be intentional.)

In response to your disconnect between data and context (i.e., your assertion that the gender disparity in social science is not sufficient evidence alone), good information was provided to you to indicate that, like the society that psychology is embedded in, women are experiencing disparities suggestive of discrimination. The sum of this data is that the disparities are broad and more prominent at levels closer to power in the field. I will reiterate that such data are strongly indicative of institutionalized discrimination. Your anecdotes about career limitations due to family are (a) not generalizable and (b) a false equivalence. There is extensive research about the unequal burden professional women carry in family duties. Much work still needs to be done to establish the specific causes of the discrimination in social psychology, but the unwelcoming aspects of the sciences for women are widely known. Poor parenting support, maternity leave policies, hiring practices, and implicitly held beliefs about their professional capacity (see Moss-Racusin for an example), aside from gender aggressions, have provided historically powerful barriers to career success for women, also depriving early career women of same-gender science mentors (another disparity). Your blog post questioned the use of intentional measures to reduce disparities (your discussion of "disadvantage"). With all due respect, that attitude instantiates the discrimination. Your struggle, whatever it is, is entirely different from theirs. Failing to embrace reasonable accommodations for such phenomena is discrimination. Unintended discrimination is still discrimination.

I'll finish with this, choosing to ignore your overtly aggressive negative comments such as "appalling obliviousness." Appeals for the inevitability of a women-led field are also true and entirely irrelevant to the current gender bias on display. They serve only to provide women hope that, one day, their colleagues will no longer be able to frustrate them out of their profession through unintentional marginalization and insensitivity to their well-established disadvantages. It is up to each of us to make sure we are not contributing to the problem now.

Dr. Josh E.

PS--In my first post, I provided a good example of how this bias could lead us to question existing research (Zimbardo's study), which you failed to respond to. That's unfortunate since it is a direct response to your initial concern. Also, Haidt has published a lot on the bias towards conservatives in academia. No need to provide anecdotes.


Haidt: http://people.stern.nyu.edu/jhaidt/postpartisan.html

Kay, A. C., Gaucher, D., Peach, J. M., Laurin, K., Friesen, J., Zanna, M. P., & Spencer, S. J. (2009). Inequality, discrimination, and the power of the status quo: Direct evidence for a motivation to see the way things are as the way they should be. Journal of personality and social psychology, 97(3), 421.

Moss-Racusin, C. A., Dovidio, J. F., Brescoll, V. L., Graham, M. J., & Handelsman, J. (2012). Science faculty’s subtle gender biases favor male students. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109(41), 16474-16479.

Lee Jussim

It has taken me a while, but there is so much confusion and/or distortion about gaps, including those by your commenters Carol and Josh, that I have decided to take this on as a multi-blog entry effort. The first has been posted here:


Here's hoping your commenters visit that one, and respond to the question at the end.


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