In 2012, Corinne Moss-Racusin, a social psychologist at Skidmore College, ran a study to see the differences that men and women face when applying for careers in STEM (areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) positions.
To perform this study, she and her team took identical resumes and randomly assigned them male or female names—in this case, John or Jennifer. Then, they submitted these resumes to STEM professors and other academics across the country and asked for their assessments.
“Despite having the exact same qualifications and experience as John, Jennifer was perceived as significantly less competent. As a result, [Jennifer] experienced a number of disadvantages that would have hindered her career advancement if she were a real applicant,” reads an article on the study.
“Because they perceived the female candidate as less competent, the scientists in the study were less willing to mentor Jennifer or to hire her as a lab manager. They also recommended paying her a lower salary,” the article writes. “Jennifer was offered, on average, $4,000 per year (13%) less than John.”
This result was not just limited to male STEM professionals, either, as the article notes that “even women scientists favored John.”
While these specific results may be a surprise for some, for others actually trying to get a job in a STEM field, it’s an everyday reality. Such is the case with Reddit user u/Anxious_North3397, who recently ran a similar experiment of her own.
According to the Redditor, she is a woman currently trying to find a job in cybersecurity.
“I keep sending CVs for the past year for red teaming roles. No response. I got my MSc, my certs and all….. But im being told on my face, that im OLD (im 37) and the ‘team is only young males. Wouldn’t that be awkward for you?’” she claims.
“So, I decided to create a fake male CV. No degrees, no certs. 4 years experience as well. Applied to the same roles as I did,” she continued. “Nearly all companies called this ‘person’. (I had a voice changer on that phone .. for the sake of the experiment). Ef that. EF THAT.”
In the comments section, many users confessed to performing similar experiments—with comparable results.
“I chose my business name as gender neutral as I knew this would be a problem for me as well,” stated a user. “I was right. In ten years, there have been a handful who were displeased to discover I am a woman on arrival.”
“I have a long, feminine name that is commonly shortened to a gender neutral name (think Samantha/Sam),” shared another. “I get significantly more interest using the shortened version rather than my full name. And I work in a significantly female-dominated field.”
“I’m in offensive security too and share your experience,” detailed a third. “Whenever I applied to a company with only male employees, I already knew beforehand that I wouldn’t get the job.”
The Daily Dot reached out to u/Anxious_North3397 via Reddit chat.