National Institutes of Health Director Will Refuse to Serve on All-Male Academic Panels

A recent 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.

While there has been much talk about how to expand the participation of women speakers at academic conferences, Francis S. Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health is actually doing something about it. Recently Dr. Collins announced that he would no longer participate on academic panels where women were not represented.

Dr. Collins issued a statement that read in part: “I want to send a clear message of concern: it is time to end the tradition in science of all-male speaking panels. Starting now, when I consider speaking invitations, I will expect a level playing field, where scientists of all backgrounds are evaluated fairly for speaking opportunities. If that attention to inclusiveness is not evident in the agenda, I will decline to take part. I challenge other scientific leaders across the biomedical enterprise to do the same.”

Filed Under: Gender GapSTEM Fields


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