Harriet Zuckerman (1937- )
New York City, New York, USA
Digital Illustration, 24" x 32", 2022
The Matthew Effect is the social concept that “the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer.” If you have higher status in life or come from a wealthy family, you are placed in situations where you will gain more. And those who are placed in lesser positions will struggle to achieve more. The co-author of this phenomenon is Harriet Zuckerman.
Zuckerman’s research looked at the social organization of science and scholarship. She found that women have specific disadvantages in science careers, especially in the categories of funding, productivity, educational achievements, lab space, and most importantly recognition. Zuckerman saw the importance of understanding why women were underrepresented in STEM fields. She spent time looking at the Matilda Effect, a term coined by Margaret Rossiter, which is applied to women in science whose work is credited to men or overlooked entirely. The Matilda Effect highlights the bias that women’s achievements are felt to be less important than those of their male colleagues.
Zuckerman’s husband, Robert K. Merton published their work, neglecting to acknowledge her as a co-author. He later admitted that she had done most of the work attributed to the Matthew Effect. Today Zuckerman is the author of many books as well as a professor emerita at Columbia University. She is an advocate for the support of a variety of educational programs, scholarships, and research opportunities for students.