Female Conveners Up Number of Women at Scientific Symposia

Number of invited female speakers increases by 72 percent compared with all-male conveners

FRIDAY, Jan. 10, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Having at least one woman on teams that convene scientific symposia increases the proportion of invited female speakers by 72 percent, compared with teams containing all men, according to a study published online Jan. 7 in mBio.

Arturo Casadevall, M.D., Ph.D., from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, N.Y., and Jo Handelsman, Ph.D., from Yale University in New Haven, Conn., compared the percentage of invited female speakers at 460 scientific symposia involving 1,845 speakers from 104 all-male "convener teams" and 112 teams with at least one woman.

The researchers found that symposia convened by the all-male teams had an average of 25 percent female speakers, while symposia convened by teams with at least one woman had an average of 43 percent female speakers. Similarly, an average of 30 percent of sessions organized by the all-male teams contained only male speakers compared with an average of only 8.9 percent of sessions organized by teams with at least one woman. Including at least one woman on the convener team increased the proportion of female speakers by 72 percent, compared to symposia convened by all-male teams.

"We found that having a woman as a convener greatly increased women's participation in symposia, suggesting that one mechanism for achieving gender balance at scientific meetings is to involve more women as conveners," Casadevall and Handelsman conclude.

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