Evaluating Unconscious Bias: Speaker Introductions at an International Oncology Conference

J Clin Oncol. 2019 Dec 20;37(36):3538-3545. doi: 10.1200/JCO.19.01608. Epub 2019 Oct 11.


Purpose: In a professional setting, the introduction of female speakers without their professional title may have an impact on the public's perception of the female speaker. We examined how professional titles were used during speakers' introductions at the ASCO Annual Meeting.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective, observational study of video-archived speaker introductions at the 2017 and 2018 ASCO Annual Meetings. A "professional address" was defined as the professional title followed by the speaker's full name or last name. Multivariable logistic regressions were used to identify factors associated with the form of address.

Results: Of 2,511 videos reviewed, 781 met inclusion criteria. Female speakers were addressed less often by their professional title compared with male speakers (62% v 81%; P < .001). Males were less likely to use a professional address when introducing female speakers compared with females when introducing male speakers (53% v 80%; P < .01). When women performed speaker introductions, no gender differences in professional address were observed (75% v 82%; P = .13). Female speakers were more likely to be introduced by first name only (17% v 3%; P < .001). Male introducers were more likely to address female speakers by first name only compared with female introducers (24% v 7%; P < .01). In a multivariable regression including gender, degree, academic rank, and geographic location of the speaker's institution, male speakers were more likely to receive a professional address compared with female speakers (odds ratio, 2.43; 95% CI, 1.71 to 3.47; P < .01).

Conclusion: When introduced by men, female speakers were less likely to receive a professional address and more likely to be introduced by first name only compared with their male peers.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Oncology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sexism*
  • Societies, Medical