Good morning, Broadsheet readers! A record number of women are running for House seats, Sheryl Sandberg takes the blame for Cambridge Analytica, and men think they’re smarter than everyone else (ahem). Have a confidence-filled weekend.
• You’re good enough, dammit! Women are used to being told to be more confident, to apply to jobs even when we don’t meet 110% of the requirements, and to fight the urge to give in to impostor syndrome. And don’t get me wrong—it’s all good advice. It’s just that it fails to factor in one important variable that’s out of our control: men.
Consider a new study from Katelyn Cooper and Sara Brownell, a pair of academics at the Arizona State University School of Life Sciences. Their study, based on an undergraduate biology class, finds that men in STEM subject areas habitually overestimate their own intelligence and credentials and underestimate the abilities of female colleagues. As a result, the research finds that women begin to doubt their abilities—even when hard evidence such as grades says otherwise.
In the experiment, “students worked in groups and as partners and when asked to rate themselves compared to their closest workmate, the men thought they’d be smarter than 61% of their colleagues. Women put the number closer to 33%.”
Cooper and Brownell attribute the disparity, at least in part, to the decades that educators, medical professionals and the general public believed that males were somehow more adept at math, science and similar subjects. And the fact that, long after this notion has been disproved, the belief persists.
In reporting on the research, NBC News talked to women in STEM fields about their experiences in the classroom and at work. Gwen Pearson, who holds a Ph.D. in entomology and is now a science writer and education coordinator at Purdue University, told the outlet that she regularly felt the disdain of her male classmates. “I can’t even tell you how many of my early successes (awards and grants) were attributed to my being the only girl, and ‘they had to’ give the award to a woman,” she said. “I am reasonably successful by a variety of measures, but I still doubt everything I do. And it’s because a lifetime of being told I don’t belong and I’m not good enough that got into my head.”
So what helps? Finding mentors who will help bolster your confidence and validate your own ways of learning and working. As does speaking out, say the researchers, who note the power of finding strength in not just standing up for yourself, but also in supporting other women or underrepresented minorities who might be underestimated too.
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Mind the gap—or don’t. Now that more than 10,000 U.K. companies have submitted data on their gender pay gaps to the British government, our London-based colleague Claire Zillman combs through the results. She reports that the median gap is 9.7%, a hair above what the Brits had originally estimated, thought some companies—notably big banks and airlines—confessed to much larger discrepancies. The question, now, writes Claire, is what comes next: The U.K. government isn’t requiring companies to “explain their gaps—let alone do anything to narrow them.”
• Running like a girl. As of yesterday, 309 women have filed papers to run for seats in the U.S. House of Representatives—a new record. Most of the candidates are Democrats inspired to run after President Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election, though a bit less than a third are Republicans. While the wave won’t bring the House to 50/50, there’s a good chance it will improve the body’s current gender breakdown: 83 of the 435 current House members are female.
• Sandberg speaks. Sheryl Sandberg talks about Facebook’s search for other Cambridge Analytica-esque data leaks, saying that the company has yet to find other bad actors. She also noted that, as the executive overseeing Facebook’s ad business, she has personal culpability in that scandal. “I take responsibility for this,” Sandberg said. “The buck stops with us. The buck stops with me. On the things we didn’t do that we should’ve done that are under my purview, that’s my responsibility and I own that.”
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Sukhinder Singh Cassidy has been named president of StubHub. She will remain chairman of theBoardlist. Dr. Ellen Stofan, the former chief scientist at NASA, will become the first woman to lead the National Air and Space Museum. Emily Nemens, a co-editor of The Southern Review, has been named editor of The Paris Review.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• Buh-Bye! The Atlantic is “parting ways” with conservative columnist Kevin Williamson—he of the tweet stating that women who’ve had abortions should be hanged—after a podcast in which he repeated the odious statement came to light. (The publication had previously defended the tweet as a one-off.)
• An Alaskan iconoclast. This New York Times Magazine piece profiles Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, “one of the few Republicans who has gone toe-to-toe with the president—and thrived.”
New York Times
• Making money moves. What is the “Cardi B effect?” According to NPR, it’s “a branding power rooted in specific authenticity, created and permeated by rapper Cardi B.” With her major label debut, Invasion of Privacy, dropping today, I suspect we’re all going to be seeing that power in action over the next couple weeks.
ON MY RADAR
If male authors described men in literature they way they describe women
The problem with the badass-working-parent meme
Taylor Swift just made a ‘generous donation’ to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network
Wrestling with gender roles: A woman can now enter the Sumo ring to save a man’s life