Scientists of the University of Sheffield and the University of Groningen have found that high quality science by female academics is underrepresented in comparison to that of their male counterparts.
The researchers analysed the genders of invited speakers at the most prestigious gatherings of evolutionary biologists in Europe - six biannual congresses of the European Society for Evolutionary Biology (ESEB). They found that male speakers outnumbered women. Even in comparison to the numbers of women and men among world class scientists – from the world top ranked institutions for life sciences, and authors in the top-tier journals Nature and Science - women were still underrepresented among invited speakers. The researchers also found that women were underrepresented at the 2011 congress because men accepted invitations more often than women.
Dr Hannah Dugdale, visiting researcher at the University of Groningen, explained:
‘It’s important that we understand why this is happening and what we can do to address it – high quality science by women has low exposure at international level and this is constraining evolutionary biology from reaching its full potential. 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.’
The research has been published by the Journal of Evolutionary Biology and the full paper can be downloaded. Dr Dugdale was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council and the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research.
Contact: Hannah Dugdale, Visiting Research Fellow Theoretical Biology & BESO, University of Groningen, tel: +44 114 222 4707
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