Friday, November 23, 2012

A scientific study of gender bias in scientific conferences: new #PLoS One paper from #UCDavis

Well, this is certainly very interesting especially given my recent obsession with gender biases in scientific conferences (e.g., see The Tree of Life: Q-Bio conference in Hawaii, bring your surfboard and your Y chromosome because they don't take a XX) ....  A press release from UC Davis (see here: Science, still a man's world? (VIDEO) :: UC Davis News & Information) describes a newly published study on gender bias in science conferences.  The study was published in PLoS One a few days ago:

Isbell LA, Young TP, Harcourt AH (2012) Stag Parties Linger: Continued Gender Bias in a Female-Rich Scientific Discipline. PLoS ONE 7(11): e49682. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0049682

The most disturbing piece of data is shows in Figure 2


Figure 2. Proportion of women as first authors of posters, talks, and symposia at AAPA meetings. The average proportion for all presentations with women as first authors over a 21-year period of annual meetings of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists is indicated by the solid black line. F-Org. Symp.: symposia organized by women only; F/M Org. Symp.: symposia organized jointly by women and men; M-Org. Symp.: symposia organized by men only.
So this seems to suggest that when men organize conferences women are much more underrepresented than they could / should be based on #s in the field. Similar to my observations in certain areas.

Some other things I have written on this topic:





4 comments:

  1. Very much what I recall from an article in the NY Times Magazine in the 1990's about the MacArthur awards. You ask a man to make nominations and he'll nominate mostly men; ask a woman and she'll nominate a more even mix. I guess that things haven't changed that much....

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  3. In a way, I was more disturbed by the finding that women more often chose to give posters rather than oral presentations compared to men. I had just finished posting a series on my blog (The Singular Scientist) about why women in science need to increase their online visibility. Perhaps our greater reluctance (on average) to be "visible" inadvertently contributes to speaker selection whenever male symposia organizers contemplate their choices? This doesn't excuse any bias involved, but does suggest ways for women in science to make it more difficult to be overlooked.

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    1. Yes, this is disturbing too and it may partially explain the invitation bias from males ...

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