Study Finds a Huge Gender Gap in Speakers Invited to Give Talks at High-Ranking Universities

A new study led by researchers at Rice University in Houston, Texas, found that during the 2013-14 academic year male professors gave more than twice as many talks as women at events sponsored by academic departments at the nation’s 50 highest-ranked universities.

The researchers examined 3,652 talks given in the fields of biology, bioengineering, history, political science, psychology, and sociology at the 50 universities ranked-highest by U.S. News & World Report. All of these fields have high percentages of women among total faculty.

The results showed that men gave 69 percent of the talks and women delivered 31 percent. The data showed that even when the speaker was an assistant professor, men still gave two thirds of the presentations. The researchers found that when a man was responsible for inviting speakers, women were chosen to present only 30 percent of the time. When a woman selected who would address the colloquium, women were selected as speakers almost half the time.

Michelle Hebl, who holds the Martha and Henry Malcolm Lovett Chair in psychology at Rice University and is a co-author of the study, stated that “these talks can have a significant impact on researchers who are selected to give them. Talks can validate one’s standing as a respected researcher, draw attention to one’s programmatic research and latest findings, increase chances of research collaborations and/or promotions and open doors to new and better career opportunities.”

The study, “Gender Disparities in Colloquium Speakers at Top Universities,” was published on the website of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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