Study Methods Sound

April 2001

As co-author with Patricia Hausman of the Independent Women's Forum analysis of the productivity of male and female biologists at MIT, I would appreciate an opportunity to comment on The Crimson's report on our work (News, "MIT Study on Faculty Gender Bias Criticized," Feb. 8).

The article quotes MIT professor Nancy Hopkins, who dismisses our findings of greater male productivity by claiming that scientists who work outside an institution cannot judge the performance of its faculty. Yet this is precisely what committees that award research grants and Nobel Prizes do all the time.

Relevant to her allegation of deliberate bias, I point out that in choosing the senior males to include in the study, we considered only those who received their doctorates in the same time frame (1970-76) as the senior women. This resulted in the exclusion of some of the most distinguished males, specifically two Nobel laureates who graduated in 1968 and 1969. We also presented data for junior scientists. These data showed very encouraging performance trends for junior women faculty. Contrary to Hopkins' claims, we did not tailor our methodology to a particular result; we simply followed standards commonly used in universities throughout the U.S. and Canada.

If Hopkins believes our conclusions about the relative performance of senior men and women biologists at MIT are wrong, I challenge her to present (publicly) a superior methodology and the resulting data. This is precisely the way a scientist who challenges the work of others is expected to proceed.