Improving participation by early stage researchers and women in conference seminars
Keywords:Gender, Bias, Education, Teaching, Diversity, Inclusion
Despite efforts to build inclusive professional communities, unconstructive power dynamics and gender inequalities persist throughout academia. At an international conference, I recorded the gender and career stage of each person asking a question following oral presentations. Students and post-docs asked 5.1 times fewer and women asked 1.2 times fewer questions than expected based on their representation in the room, significantly less than PIs and men (2.0 and 1.4 times more than expected). Importantly, when the first question was asked by a student or post-doc, other early stage researchers tended to ask more subsequent questions. I make recommendations for improving participation at future meetings, specifically (1) requiring that the first question be asked by a student or post-doc and requesting that moderators give preference to questions asked by female researchers, (2) assigning students and post-docs as session moderators, and (3) encouraging more students and post-docs to give oral presentations.
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