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Including women on convening committees increases women speakers at scientific meetings
Date:1/6/2014

aralleled one another: in both there was a positive correlation between the participation of women as session conveners and participation by female scientists in those sessions. At the general meeting, sessions convened by all men had an average of 25% female speakers, and sessions where the convener team had at least one woman had an average of 43% female speakers - a 72% increase. At ICAAC, including at least one woman on the convening team was also associated with 72% more female invited speakers.

And at both meetings, the participation of women on a convening team also reduced the odds the session would have all male speakers.

The increase in female speakers was not simply a result of the female conveners also speaking. Male and female conveners participated as speakers in roughly equal percentages and the percentage of female conveners who spoke at their sessions was smaller than the increase in female participation associated with the presence of a woman on the convening committee. This suggests that female conveners boosted the participation of women in other ways, write Casadevall and Handelsman.

"These are 'correlations'," not proof of causation, says Casadevall. He emphasizes that further research is needed to explain why the presence of a woman on a convening committee is correlated with increased numbers of female speakers, but the data suggest that involving women as conveners could have a large effect on the gender distribution of the speakers and promote gender equity.

"Meeting program committees could carefully consider the gender composition of those assigned to pull together scientific sessions and make efforts to involve women scientists as conveners for sessions and symposia," says Casadevall.


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Contact: Jim Sliwa
jsliwa@asmusa.org
202-942-9297
American Society for Microbiology
Source:Eurekalert

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