Male Bias Persists in Female-Rich Science Conferences

Women scientists in primatology are poorly represented at symposia organized by men, but receive equal representation when symposia organizers are women or mixed groups, according to research published November 21 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Lynne Isbell and colleagues from the University of California, Davis.

Their analysis also shows that symposia organized by men on average included half the number of women authors (29%) than symposia organized by women or both men and women (58 to 64%). They describe their results as particularly surprising given that primatology is a field with a significant history of women scientists.

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Objective quantitative analysis of sexism in science and atheist conferences is here.

Proving and Quantifying Sexism

Applying game theory

In any grouping that is supposed to consist of the most qualified people and has a large gender imbalance, if that gender imbalance was caused by institutionalized sexism either in the choice of individuals or the admittance of individuals into the pool of candidates (for example, discouraging women from studying in STEM fields), then the women in the group will be more qualified on average than the men in the group. Additionally, rival groups with more equal representation of women will be more qualified on average than rival groups with fewer women.

... three studies that show that this hypothesis holds water...

Evidence out in the real world shows that in areas which contain large gender imbalances, the women are generally better at their jobs than the men. Since we don’t have any good reason to believe that women are somehow just innately better than men, then it means that sexism present either in the choices of individuals or in the pool of individuals that the choices will come from.

MRA’s often say that feminists think that women are better than men. In actuality, the more sexism that is present, the more women will be better than their male counterparts. When gender diversity increases in a group, we should see the average ability of women in the group decline to be more equal to that of the men and the average quality of the entire group rise.

Ruth, did the PLOS ONE report say whether the symposia that few or no women attended were primarily in southeastern states? In Republican-leaning states?

While not an academic organization, Toastmasters International (TI) until about 1970 did not admit women. Women who wanted a similar public speaking experience joined the Toastmistress organization.

In the years just before TI dropped that rule, the premier Toastmasters club in Phoenix flouted the rule. Its members, bankers and such, could almost order the guest attendance of the mayor and state legislators. For the first names of women applicants, the club used either initials or male forms, such as Pat for Patricia.

By 1974 TI had changed the rule; I was one of three members of a large singles club (mostly divorced folk) who formed a Toastmasters club for single folk. At meetings we often had as many guests as members.

Much of America has changed. A few months ago I watched part of a televised conference of the chief justices of America's state supreme courts. Unless I misheard, women were the majority.


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