Study Finds Women Underrepresented as Speakers at Leading Conferences in Evolutionary Biology

Julia Schroeder and Hannah Dugdale

Julia Schroeder and Hannah Dugdale

Research by Hannah Dugdale of the University of Sheffield and Julia Schroeder of the Max Planck Institute in Germany, has found that women are underrepresented in invitations to address prestigious gatherings of evolutionary biologists in Europe.

The research showed that the percentage of women among invited speakers at the top conferences of the European Society for Evolutionary Biology was lower than the percentage of women among top scientists in the field, lower than the percentage of women on the faculties of the top research universities in evolutionary biology, and lower than the percentage of women authors in the leading journals Nature and Science.

In discussing why women don’t receive their fair share of speaking engagements, Professor Dugdale stated, “We’re currently investigating the reasons behind this lower acceptance rate – it could relate to childcare requirements, lower perception of scientific ability, being uncomfortable with self-promotion – there are many potential contributing factors.”

Dr. Schroeder adds, “The most demanding phase of a career in biology, when it is important to communicate one’s findings, and to build networks with other scientists, coincides with the age at which women’s fertility starts to decline, meaning it is their last chance to have a family. Thus, women scientists of this career phase may be pregnant, or have children. Stay-at-home-dads are rare, therefore, these women are less flexible about traveling for work, and may be more likely to decline invitations to speak.”

The research was published in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology and may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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