Wednesday, November 22, 2017
News

Accomplished female scientists often overlooked

   SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend    Print this Page   COMMENT

Washington D.C. [USA] | April 21, 2017 12:01:13 AM IST
 
Turns out, gender gap still exists in the STEM fields-science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Invited speakers at neuroimmunology conferences in 2016 were disproportionately male, and not because male scientists were producing higher quality work, according to a new study. Instead, qualified female scientists were overlooked by organizing committees.

Researcher Robyn Klein from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, discussed the findings, published online in Nature Immunology.

Klein noted, "A postdoctoral fellow in my lab pointed out that the preliminary speaker list for an international neuroimmunology conference included only 13 female speakers out of 93 total. I contacted the conference organizers, and they responded that there weren't enough accomplished female neuroscientists at senior ranks to invite. So I thought, 'That's a hypothesis that I can test'."

How did you test the hypothesis that there is a larger pool of accomplished men than women in neuroimmunology?

"I began by assembling an ad hoc committee of neuroimmunologists and asked them to send me the names of women neuroimmunologists who would be good speakers at an international meeting. After receiving 29 names, the number that would achieve gender balance for the meeting, I analyzed the number of publications in relatively high-impact journals in the last two years for each of the invited speakers as well as my list of female scientists," Klein added.

"I found that while there was no gender difference among the investigators with the very highest impact publications, there were many more women with papers in the next tier of journals compared with men. Importantly, 21 percent of the men had no publications that met my criteria in the past two years, compared with only 5 percent of the women. So I concluded that the hypothesis was not correct; there were plenty of women who had published high-impact papers recently who could have been invited and would have improved the scientific impact of the meeting," Klein continued.

Klein learnt two things while doing this study. One, the composition of the organizing committee matters. "I looked at all the neuroimmunology conferences held in 2016 worldwide, and I found that as you approach 50 percent women on the organizing committee, you approach 50 percent female invited speakers. So if you want gender parity in speakers, first you need to include more women in organizing and planning committees."

Two, speaking out about gender balance makes a difference. "The organizers of the first conference asked for my list of overlooked female neuroimmunologists and invited several of them. They ended up doubling the number of female speakers at their conference, and that raised the quality of the conference. The speaker list was much stronger once they included more women. But it would not have been improved if we hadn't spoken out. It's important to notice if people are being overlooked because of unconscious bias and to bring that to the attention of others who are seeking speakers, and leaders. This also is required to combat bias due to race, ethnicity, and nationality. Naming the problem is the first step in solving it."

Klein concluded that there's a growing body of research showing that female scientists' contributions to their fields are often not reflected in the number of speaker invitations they receive, and that this under-recognition hurts their careers and slows the pace of scientific progress.

"While this bias may be unconscious, data from sources such as BiasWatchNeuro, founded in 2015 to track the proportion of female conference speakers relative to the proportion of female faculty in the relevant field, show that it is widespread. Encouragingly, the data also show that bringing such biases to light helps to reduce their impact," Klein said. (ANI)

Watch News Videos

 
  LATEST COMMENTS (0)
POST YOUR COMMENT
Comments Not Available
 
POST YOUR COMMENT
 
TRENDING TOPICS
 
 
 
CITY NEWS
MORE CITIES
 
MORE SCIENCE NEWS
Stars among the oldest in our galaxy dis...
Japan-led probe to Martian moons to carr...
'Flowing' water on Mars may be sand and ...
Oxygen rise 400 mn years ago linked to s...
Banning packaged plastic water bottles, ...
First known interstellar asteroid is cig...
More...
 
INDIA WORLD ASIA
Kohima Press Club condemns killing of Tr...
Two Art of Living members held in Meghal...
Women are superior than men: SRK...
Bengaluru-Mysuru double rail line opened...
Madhya Pradesh CM orders action against ...
Autistics can actually play their way to...
More...    
 
 Top Stories
Tyrese Gibson proud to win custody ... 
Self respect, dignity more importan... 
Farhan wants his concert 'Lalkaar' ... 
Govinda wraps up first schedule of ... 
Shatrughan Sinha questions Modi, Bi... 
OnePlus 5T: Stellar flagship killer... 
Foreigners in ISL can learn from In... 
Suspects detained in German Christm...