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Don’t Masculinize the Letter of Recommendation: Towards a Truly Gender-Brave Science Community

21 Oct 2015, 18:37 UTC
Don’t Masculinize the Letter of Recommendation: Towards a Truly Gender-Brave Science Community
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The below is a guest blog post by Professors Andy Elby and Ayush Gupta. Andy Elby is a Associate Professor of Teaching & Learning, Policy & Leadership and Affiliate Associate Professor of Physics at the University of Maryland.  His research aims to understand how students’ views about what counts as knowledge in a given setting affects their approaches to learning and problem-solving.Ayush Gupta is a Research Assistant Professor of Physics at the University of Maryland. He is interested in gaining a better understanding of how the human mind operates and learns. He wants to use this understanding to promote a more equitable education system and an overall scientific and rational way of thinking in society – awareness and education being the slow but steady path towards greater social justice without instability.In a recent letter of recommendation about an ex-student applying for a competitive assistant professorship, we wrote, “It helps, too, that [Applicant] has a laid-back style and genuine humbleness…[Applicant] truly listens to other people’s perspectives.”  Was it misguided of us to include humbleness and good listening skills in our recommendation? And should the answer depend on whether Applicant is male or female?Dr. Marcia McNutt, Editor-in-Chief of Science Journals, offers answers ...

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