Abstract for: Recognising systemic gender bias: Career advancement case study in a science team

Gender bias in the workplace is a well-recognised barrier to women’s career advancement and as a contributor to the gender pay gap, including in academia and the science sector (Brower & James, 2020; Lansu, Bleijenbergh, & Benschop, 2019; Rua-Gomez & Arias-Gaviria, 2020). This is a persistent problem and modelling shows that without intervention this situation will not change (e.g. Brower & James, 2020). For interventions to be transformative they need to focus on systemic rather than individual change, and this requires knowledge of the system. The organisation is a useful bounded system when considering persistent workplace gender bias, as a complementary approach to addressing societal change more broadly (Lansu et al., 2019). Understanding what factors contribute to different patterns of career advancement between genders is necessary for designing systemic interventions, and qualitative causal loop diagrams (CLDs) are a good way to visualise these factors in a way that does not lay blame on individuals (Rua-Gomez & Arias-Gaviria, 2020). This paper reports on a case study of career advancement in a mixed gender social science team over a twenty-year period, using a qualitative CLD to understand the interactions between factors and explain the observed gender bias in career advanacement.