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Gender in Engineering Departments: Are There Gender Differences in Interruptions of Academic Job Talks?


  • Mary Blair-Loy

    () (Department of Sociology, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA)

  • Laura E. Rogers

    () (Department of Sociology, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA)

  • Daniela Glaser

    () (Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90007, USA)

  • Y. L. Anne Wong

    () (Department of Sociology, University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, USA)

  • Danielle Abraham

    () (Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes, 445 Marine View Ave #290, Del Mar, CA 92014, USA)

  • Pamela C. Cosman

    () (Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA)


We use a case study of job talks in five engineering departments to analyze the under-studied area of gendered barriers to finalists for faculty positions. We focus on one segment of the interview day of short-listed candidates invited to campus: the “job talk”, when candidates present their original research to the academic department. We analyze video recordings of 119 job talks across five engineering departments at two Research 1 universities. Specifically, we analyze whether there are differences by gender or by years of post-Ph.D. experience in the number of interruptions, follow-up questions, and total questions that job candidates receive. We find that, compared to men, women receive more follow-up questions and more total questions. Moreover, a higher proportion of women’s talk time is taken up by the audience asking questions. Further, the number of questions is correlated with the job candidate’s statements and actions that reveal he or she is rushing to present their slides and complete the talk. We argue that women candidates face more interruptions and often have less time to bring their talk to a compelling conclusion, which is connected to the phenomenon of “stricter standards” of competence demanded by evaluators of short-listed women applying for a masculine-typed job. We conclude with policy recommendations.

Suggested Citation

  • Mary Blair-Loy & Laura E. Rogers & Daniela Glaser & Y. L. Anne Wong & Danielle Abraham & Pamela C. Cosman, 2017. "Gender in Engineering Departments: Are There Gender Differences in Interruptions of Academic Job Talks?," Social Sciences, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(1), pages 1-19, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jscscx:v:6:y:2017:i:1:p:29-:d:93003

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Irish, Julie T. & Hall, Judith A., 1995. "Interruptive patterns in medical visits: The effects of role, status and gender," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 41(6), pages 873-881, September.
    2. Papke, Leslie E & Wooldridge, Jeffrey M, 1996. "Econometric Methods for Fractional Response Variables with an Application to 401(K) Plan Participation Rates," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 11(6), pages 619-632, Nov.-Dec..
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    Cited by:

    1. Sarah Thébaud & Maria Charles, 2018. "Segregation, Stereotypes, and STEM," Social Sciences, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(7), pages 1-18, July.

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