Thursday, August 22, 2013

YAMMGM - yet another mostly male genomics meeting (series): Plant Genomic Congresses by Global Engage

Just got invited to the "Plant Genomics Congress Asia" meeting. As usual, the first thing I look at now is gender ratio.  From their web site I got a list of their speakers (so far) and their advisory board.  I highlighted in Yellow ones I am inferring are male and in green ones I am inferring are female.  For the meeting the ratio so far is 17:4 male to female.  Not the worst I have seen but still pretty bad.  Though if you look at their advisory board at least the ratio for the speakers is better --- it is 17:0 for the Advisory Board.
  1. John Manners, Chief, CSIRO Plant Industry, Australia 
  2. Dave Edwards, Principal Research Fellow, School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, University of Queensland, Australia 
  3. Nagendra Singh National Professor-BP Pal Chair, National Research Centre on Plant Biotechnology, Indian Council of Agricultural Research, India 
  4. Han Zhao, Professor of Biology and Biotechnology, Institute of Biotechnology Jiangsu, Academy of Agricultural Sciences, China 
  5. Huaan Yang, Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA), Australia 
  6. Rajeev K. Varshney, Principal Scientist (Applied Genomics) & Director, Centre of Excellence in Genomics, ICRISAT, India 
  7. Apichart Vanavichit, Professor, The Rice Gene Discovery Unit, Kasetsart University, Thailand 
  8. Norman Warthmann, Senior Post Doc, Borevitz Laboratory, ANU College of Medicine, Biology and Environment, Australian National University, Australia 
  9. Chungui Lu Lecturer in Post-Genomics, Faculty of Science, Nottingham University, UK 
  10. Beng Kah (Bk) Song, Lecturer, Monash University, Sunway Campus, Australia/ Malaysia 
  11. Kenneth Olsen, Associate Professor Department of Biology, Washington St Louis University, USA 
  12. Yue-Ie Hsing, Distinguished Research Fellow, Institute of Plant and Microbial Biology, Academica Sinica, Taiwan 
  13. Meilina Ong Abdullah, Breeding and Tissue Culture Unit, The Advanced Biotechnology and Breeding Centre, Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) Malaysia 
  14. Yijun Ruan, Professor and Director, Systems Biology Center, HuaZhong Agricultural University, Wuhan, China 
  15. Sachiko Isobe, Head Applied Plant Genomics, Kaduza DNA Research Institute (KDRI), Japan 
  16. Yuan-Ming Zhang, Professor of Statistical Genomics, State Key Lab. of Crop Genetics and Germplasm Enhancement, Nanjing Agricultural University, China 
  17. Parveen Chhuneja, Geneticist, Bioinformatics Centre School of Agricultural Biotechnology, Punjab Agricultural University, India 
  18. Shengyi Liu, Professor and Head, The Key Lab of Oil Crops Biology, the Ministry of Agriculture, PRC Department of Genomics, Oil Crops Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, China 
  19. Wen-Hsiung Li, Director and Distinguished Research Fellow, Biodiversity Research Center, Institute of Plant and Microbial Biology, Academica Sinica, Taiwan 
  20. Graham King, Director, Southern Cross Plant Science Professor of Plant Genomics and Epigenetics, Southern Cross University, Australia 
  21. Ryan Lister, Professor/ARC Future Fellow, Plant Energy Biology ARC CoE, School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, The University of Western Australia 
  22. Amitabh Mohanty, Lead Trait Discovery, E.I. DuPont India Pvt Ltd. 
Advisory Board:
  1. Robin G Allaby, Associate Professor, School of Life Sciences, University of Warwick, UK
  2. Todd Blevins, Senior Postdoctoral Associate, Pikaard Lab, Indiana University
  3. Roger Bossé, Global Product Line Leader, PerkinElmer
  4. James Coomer, Senior Technical Advisor for Europe. Data Direct Networks
  5. Tamas Dalmay, Professor of RNA Biology, School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich 
  6. Massimo Delledonne, Professor, Department of Biotechnology & Director, Functional Genomics Center,  University of Verona, Italy
  7. Joe Duran, Director - HPC Systems, Technology Solutions Division, Fujitsu
  8. Alberto Ferrarini , Biotechnology Professional, University of Verona 
  9. Keywan Hassani-Pak, Group Leader Applied Bioinformatics, Computational and Systems Biology, Rothamsted Research
  10. Julin Maloof, Professor, Department of Plant Biology, University of California, Davis
  11. Piotr Mieczkowski, Director of NGS Facility, Research Assistant Professor, University of North Carolina
  12. Stephen P. Moose, Associate Professor, Maize Genomics, Department of Crop Sciences,, Program Leader, Feedstock Genomics, Energy Biosciences Institute, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
  13. Lukas Mueller, Professor, Plant Breeding and Genetics, Boyce Thompson Institute, Cornell University
  14. Odd-Arne Olsen, Professor at Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences (IPM), Norwegian University of Life Sciences (UMB) , Faculty of Education & Natural Sciences, Hamar University College (HUC), Norway
  15. Chris Pires, Associate Professor Division of Biological Sciences, University of Missouri-Columbia
  16. Uwe Scholz, Group Leader, Research Group Bioinformatics and Information Technology, IPK
  17. Alan Schulman, MTT Agrifood Research and Institute of Biotechnology, University of Helsinki 
So after checking out this meeting I decided - at their suggestion to check out the meetings in Europe and the USA they are organizing.  The speakers for the US meeting are a whopping 33:4 male to female according to my count and the ratio for the European meeting is about the same (mind you I like some of the speakers - am not blaming them -- but this meeting should be avoided in my opinion).  Definitely not impressed with the organizers here or the Global Engage organization behind these meetings.  Uggh. What is wrong with people?  It is really not actually that hard to do better than this.


  1. I note - I sent an email back to the organizers

    Thanks for the invitation. I must say I am very disappointed in the male to female ratio of speakers and advisory board members for this meeting. I am unwilling to attend such meetings in fields with so many good potential women to have involved.

    I realize sometimes this might be out of one's control but in most cases I know, such skewed ratios are the result of either some implicit or explicit bias and can be fixed with careful attention.


    Jonathan Eisen

  2. Women are more likely to have partners in demanding professional jobs than vice versa. If they have young kids, she has to bargain with her spouse to travel because her absence means that the spouse has to cover her duties, and the resulting loss of work time (even if they split duties 50/50 when both parents are around) for him negatively affects his job performance. I have a tenure-track spouse and have turned down several invitations to speak at conferences for this reason. Women who shoulder more than half the domestic duties have it even tougher. The provision of childcare at conferences can help.

  3. Meh. Demanding job or not, if a guy's wife gets invited to speak at a conference (which rather implies that she's no part-timer herself) he really ought to pull on his fighting trousers and step up. No TT Prof's career is going to take a nose dive for the sake of having to do the single parent thing for 3-4 days every couple of years or so.

    As it is, I don't think this dynamic is a significant contributor to the persistent gender bias described above. I agree with the argument that this is still in large part a selection issue.

  4. Hello, just a note that more things are fishy about these conferences - they do have a very weird advertising strategy including unsolicited phone calls to people with publication history only marginally touching the meeeting topics, and they are also thge only conference where you are supposed to pay more when presenting a poster. As for the gender bias, I do not mind - at least this is one of the few places that does not positively discriminate in favor of the already massively overrepresented female majority in non-medical biological sciences and teaching.

  5. As a female in science I have attended 2 fantastic conferences organized by Global Engage. I have also attended many other conferences in my field and did not notice any difference in gender bias. As for their advertising strategy they are merely trying to incorporate a diverse range of participants which will lead to more imaginative collaborations.


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