When Beryl Campings asked her first question at the Genetics Conference Audience, she chose a subject she knew a lot, formulated her question as meticulously as possible, and turned to her wife.
In science, questions are very important, said Cammings, who then worked at Harvard's computer genomics. But while a young scholar speaks in a public forum, she says the bet has felt a little higher.
This is a point of deepening the consensus: For women interested in a career in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the room may be only half the battle.
A little more than half of all PhD degrees in Biomedical Sciences have already been won by women. But if their growing number in the STEM sphere is to become a significant scientific contribution, these women need their voice to be heard ̵
this equation. For a scientist to be heard, she must first decide to use it. This can mean meeting up and asking questions. It does not happen as often as you can expect.
The study was published last month in American Journal of Human Genetics . He collects data from several years of genetics conferences and finds that men are overly represented amongst the researchers at scientific meetings and symposia. Women, on the other hand, are short-lived
The authors of the study argue that there may be many explanations for women's restraint to speak at professional conferences. But they also suggest that more documentation of gender differences and wider consciousness of its existence would help to correct the imbalance.
After all, the problem is not limited to the field of genetics. Previous work has shown that women are less well represented as speakers in a wide range of scientific disciplines, including microbiology, virology, and evolutionary biology.
"We omit" when the voices of women and minorities are not fully represented, Dr. Francis S. Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, said in an interview.
Collins himself recently called attention to the lack of diversity – gender, anyway – among the speakers of scientific meetings.
sent a clear message of concern, "he wrote in a public statement. "It is time to put an end to the tradition of science of all men's panels, sometimes called manels."
Declaring that "it is not enough to give the attitude of equality", Collins put the organizers of conferences on Note: To ensure their presence, they will have to provide proof that "scholars of all backgrounds" have been seen and invited to present, speak and hold sessions. "" There are not enough women in this area to fill these spaces, "he said Collins in an interview. "That's just not true.
The new research, focused on genetics conferences, offers a nuanced profile of women's representation in one of the newest areas of science. Around 45% of about 8,000 genetics belonging to the American Women's Society, and the work presented at annual conferences shows that female geneticists contribute greatly to their area. In nine of the 14 sub-areas of genetics, the proportion of the reports submitted by women exceeded their overall representation in society
But the model differs in the part of the questions and answers of the procedures, where professional reputation is formed and research programs are being developed. asked 65% of the questions posed to the speakers
Even in sessions where the majority of the members of the audience were women, the men dominated the questioning. "When women are 70% of a room, they still have only asked about 40% of the questions," said Natalie Telis, who led the study with Emily Glastberg while both were doctorates at Stanford University.
A private sector, Telis believes that an audience should be from 80% to 90% of women to make sure that asking a question will be evenly distributed among men and women
Collins said these measurements offer a solid confirmation of his own experience.
"I went to a lot of scientific meetings and I can confirm that this would be my observation: Men are likely to be ahead, demonstrating their competence and willingness to self-help," he said. "Women are less inclined to do so."
Telis said that conference participants who publicly challenge, contextualize, or simply amplify the comments of others, speak a lot about their sense of security among their colleagues. It is therefore not surprising that the men who ask the question tend to refer their questions to men, while the women who ask are more likely to direct their questions to women, as Cummings has done. so much about implicit preferences for "people like me," and preconceptions about "others" than about sex discrimination itself, says Telis. It also raises the possibility that making people more aware of these preferences could be a powerful way to counteract these sophisticated biases. its preliminary findings and touched on a wide-ranging discussion focusing on women's participation in the question and answer sessions.
After her, she and her co-authors found a measurable difference. The share of questions asked by women after invitations and plenary talks was similar to that of previous years. But the proportion of conversations that were followed by women's zero questions fell from 51% to 30%.
Cummings, whose first question about the conference was raised during this meeting, said the new data certainly reflected her own experience. 19659005] While judging whether to stand and ask a question, she felt the weight of the audience's potential judgment. Over the years, she had heard that several male colleagues asked questions that were stupid or uninformed. But such a wrong step did not seem to be an option. This is not an irritant or a wandering in an unknown territory, she concluded.
She now has some data to support these impressions, as well as colleagues who may be skeptical about the barriers that many women perceive.
"People talk about it all the time," says Cammings, who is now a PhD student at Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts. "But that is actually data, and that really speaks to the scientists in the language they understand."
Men ask most questions at scientific conferences; we can choose to change that
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In science, issues are very important. Men are more likely to ask women (2019, July 28)
drawn up on 28 July 2019
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