It’s Actually Not That Hard to Get More Female Panelists at Science Conferences

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Photo via Congrats! You Have an All Male Panel
Photo via Congrats! You Have an All Male Panel

Congrats! You Have an All-Male Panel is a tumblr that showcases/shames “panels, seminars, events, and various other things featuring all male experts.” Along those lines, a Johns Hopkins researcher has looked into how to get more women featured on panels at science conferences. It turns out that it’s a pretty easy thing to do–as long as the problem is taken seriously.

According to Arturo Casadevall, chair of the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, increasing women’s participation in conferences — especially in visible roles — requires just a few simple steps. First, call attention to the fact of underrepresentation. Next, include more women in planning roles. And… that’s it.

By following those principles, the American Society of Microbiology  was able to increase the percentage of female speakers at its general meeting from 27 percent (in 2011) to 49 percent (in 2015).”When you have an underrepresentation of women as speakers and many panel discussions made up only of male researchers, you’re sending the message that perhaps the field is not welcoming to women,” Casadevall says. “That isn’t the message we want to send.”

 



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