Sent by a reader, from a recent letter of recommendation for a candidate for a faculty position:
[the applicant] is in the same league as other top female graduates [from this department]
But how does she compare to people with the same hair color? eye color? height? weight? religion? race? Surely these are as relevant as classifying by gender in a letter of recommendation for a faculty position.
The reader who sent the excerpt notes that the writer of the letter is male and in his early-mid 40's. That puts him in the same league as other top sexist letter-writers of older generations.
The letter-writer may have been trying to compliment the woman in question, or he may have been trying to signal that she isn't actually as good as the top male graduates from that department. If the latter, he probably could have found a better way to do that.
My question is:
Is someone who would write the above statement in a reference letter -- no matter what their motivation -- capable of making a fair evaluation of a female doctoral recipient, or does the very act of writing something like that in a letter of reference indicate bias?