Inspired by Elisabeth Bik’s list of women in microbiome science and many other similar lists in other disciplines these lists of expert women are created with the hope of starting to address some aspects of bias in STEM subjects.  There are quantitative biases against women in letters of recommendation for postdoctoral fellowships1, in selection of candidates for research positions2, in peer review3, in grant review scores4, in citations of publications with female PIs5.  In a recent analysis of Nature journal articles, only a third of first authors and a fifth of last authors were women6.

When it comes to inviting speakers at conferences, the gender bias is typically obvious, with all male panels, and male key notes dominating. An excuse that is often used by organisers is that they weren’t aware of women in the field, or that they invited women to speak, but they turned them down. Lists of women experts within a particular field can be used to negate this argument and also more practically to redress the balance.

This site is the brain child of Dr Mike Cox who is based at Imperial College London – you can read more about him here.

  1. Dutt, K., Pfaff, D. L., Bernstein, A. F., Dillard, J. S. & Block, C. J. Gender differences in recommendation letters for postdoctoral fellowships in geoscience. Nature Geoscience 9, 805–808 (2016).
  2. Moss-Racusin, C. A., Dovidio, J. F., Brescoll, V. L., Graham, M. J. & Handelsman, J. Science faculty’s subtle gender biases favor male students. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 109, 16474–16479 (2012).
  3. Helmer, M., Schottdorf, M., Neef, A. & Battaglia, D. Research: Gender bias in scholarly peer review. eLife 6, e21718 (2017).
  4. Kaatz, A. et al. Analysis of National Institutes of Health R01 Application Critiques, Impact, and Criteria Scores: Does the Sex of the Principal Investigator Make a Difference? Acad Med 91, 1080–1088 (2016).
  5. Caplar, N., Tacchella, S. & Birrer, S. Quantitative evaluation of gender bias in astronomical publications from citation counts. Nature Astronomy 2017 1:6 1, s41550–017–0141 (2017).
  6. Bendels MHK, Müller R, Brueggmann D, Groneberg DA (2018) Gender disparities in high-quality research revealed by Nature Index journals. PLOS ONE 13(1): e0189136.