Progress and Prospects in Gender Visibility at SMBE Annual Meetings

Genome Biol Evol. 2018 Mar 1;10(3):901-908. doi: 10.1093/gbe/evy056.


Reduced visibility of women in science is thought to be one of the causes of their underrepresentation among scientists, in particular at senior positions. Visibility is achieved through publications, and through conference attendance and presentations. Here, we investigated gender differences in visibility at the annual meetings of the Society of Molecular Biology and Evolution. The analysis of meeting programs showed a regular increase in female speakers for the last 16 years. Data on abstract submission suggest that there are no gender-related preferences in the acceptance of contributed presentations at the most recent meetings. However, data collected on-site in 2015 and 2016 show that women asked only ∼25% of the questions, that is, much less than expected given the female attendance. Understanding the reasons for this pattern is necessary for the development of policies that aim to reduce imbalance in visibility.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Molecular Biology / trends*
  • Science*
  • Women, Working*
  • Workforce