Friday, July 3, 2009

Gender discrimination among playwrights.

Have I mentioned how much I love reading feminist critiques of science journalism?

Echidne of the Snakes opens a can of science whoopass on journalists who cannot read the studies about which they report.

To make a long story short, it had been reported in several news outlets that a recent study showed that female directors and managers give worse ratings to female-authored plays, thus women are really the cause of discrimination against female playwrights.

The reporting was very, very wrong.

The study design was:
1) Send out identical plays to many such directors/managers, all of which were actually written by women, but put male names on half of them.
2) Have such directors/managers fill out long questionnaires that asked both about how the director thought the play would be received and also about what the director thought about the actual quality of the play.

The results?

Male directors rated the "male" and "female" authored plays equally on both personal ratings and how they thought it would be recieved.

Female directors rated the "male" and "female" authored plays equally on personal ratings, but they responded that "female" authored plays would be received less-well by others, likely because they were more aware of how gender-based discrimination plays out in these situations.

Apparently in the eyes of science journalists, as Echidne says, "To notice discrimination is to be guilty of it."

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