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On the importance of WIPS not being wimps. Dorothy Bishop, University of Oxford

Venue: Birkbeck Main Building

There is ample evidence of subtle, and no-so-subtle, biases against women in academia: for instance, both men and women are likely to rate papers with female author names as less good than those with a male name. As Virginia Valian has argued, much of this bias can be understood in terms of a psychological tendency to rely on schemata in effect stereotypes to minimise cognitive effort when interacting with the world. This can lead to a vicious circle, whereby women are perceived as not behaving like competent leaders, which can lead to their skills being under-rated, and so they don't get to be competent leaders. There are two ways of changing this situation. Most of the focus has been on getting people to recognise their implicit biases so they can try to overcome them. I propose that we need to complement this approach with a push by women to change the schemata of the female scientist. Many women find it difficult to put themselves forward in contexts such as giving talks, media appearances, commenting on social media, or even asking questions in seminars. All of these things become easier with practice, but they require one to develop a different mindset towards criticism. I propose that if more women scientists start to do this now, they will make life much easier for the next generation.

Brief biosketch

Dorothy Bishop, FMedSci, FBA, FRS is a Wellcome Trust Principal Research Fellow and Professor of Developmental Neuropsychology at the University of Oxford, where she heads a programme of research into children's communication impairments. She is a supernumerary fellow of St John's College Oxford. Her main interests are in the nature and causes of developmental language impairments, with a particular focus on psycholinguistics, neurobiology and genetics. She also is active in the field of open science and research reproducibility and chaired a symposium on reproducibility at the Wellcome Trust last year. As well as publishing in conventional academic outlets, she writes a popular blog with personal reactions to scientific and academic matters (Bishopblog) and tweets as @deevybee.