Women do better with conference applications if process is gender blind

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Women are more likely to be accepted to speak at academic conferences if applications are anonymised to remove any mention of their gender, a study suggests.

In the latest piece of evidence to support the “Matilda effect” – where women in male-dominated fields are rated more harshly by peer reviewers – a review of a leading international conference found that papers with a female first author were viewed more positively once clues to the applicant’s gender were removed.

Conversely, those papers with a male first author scored far worse once a “double-blind” review process was introduced to conceal the identities of the authors and their referees.

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The study was also important because it revealed gender bias in this particular field, even though a male-to-female speaker ratio (roughly 50:50 in 2012 and 2014) did not suggest an immediate problem, Dr Roberts explained.

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In related news,

Female Scientists Turn to Data to Fight Lack of Representation on Panels
A website, BiasWatchNeuro, has been set up to track the gender bias in panels at neuroscience conferences. It’s an interesting article, especially the ‘we don’t see gender’ comments that read like a bingo card of clichéd excuses.

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More on panels

There’s No Excuse for All-Male Panels. Here’s How to Fix Them.

“We believe people saying, ‘There aren’t any’ is just a lazy way of saying, ‘I don’t have them in my network,’ ” said project manager Tina Sayed Nestius. “With our lists, we’ve got a really good way to prove them wrong.”

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