Academic conferences are major scenarios to disseminate and learn about scientific advances, but also to bring opportunities for developing collaboration networks or displaying a certain status and prestige. However, not all researchers benefit equally from these events. Recent studies showed compelling evidence that women have reduced opportunities to participate in academic conferences compared to men. Discrimination against women has been reported in abstract selection, coauthor lists, convener panels and invitations to keynote talks (Farr et al. 2017, Sanchez-Montoya et al. 2016, Lupon et al. 2019). Yet gender bias does not stop there: women generally ask fewer and shorter questions than their male counterparts (Hinsley et al. 2017), and tend to feel more excluded from intellectual discussions and social events (Lupon et al. 2019, Settles and O’Conner 2014). Collectively, these “chilly” experiences may affect women’s job satisfaction and lower their intentions to pursue a scientific career (Biggs et al. 2018).
These findings stress the importance of advancing towards more women-inclusive conferences, even in countries with good perceptions of women as scientists. Due to these facts, we strongly encourage organizers to develop and follow guidelines for inclusive scientific meetings, with special focus on:
Biggs J, Hawley PH, Biernat M. 2018. The academic conference as a chilly climate for women: effects of gender representation on experiences of sexism, coping responses, and career intentions. Sex Roles, 78: 394–408.
Catalán, N., Anton‐Pardo, M., Freixa, A., Rodríguez‐Lozano, P., Bartrons, M., Bernal, S., Genua‐Olmedo, A., Mendoza‐Lera, C., Onandía, G., Benito, X. and Sánchez‐Montoya, M.M., 2022. Women in limnology: From a historical perspective to a present‐day evaluation. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Water, p.e1616.
Farr CM, Bombaci SP, Gallo T, Mangan AM, Riedl HL, Stinson LT, et al. 2017. Addressing the gender gap in distinguished speakers at professional ecology conferences. Bioscience, 67: 464–468.
Hinsley A, Sutherland WJ, Johnston A. 2017. Men ask more questions than women at a scientific conference. PLoS One, 12: 1–14
*Lupon A, Rodríguez-Lozano P, Bartrons M, Anadon-Rosell A, Batalla M, Bernal S, et al. 2021 Towards women-inclusive ecology: Representation, behavior, and perception of women at an international conference. PLoS One, 16: e0260163.
Sánchez-Montoya M. M, Pastor A, Aristi I, del Arco AI, Antón-Pardo M, Bartrons M, et al. 2016. Women in limnology in the Iberian Peninsula: biases, barriers and recommendations. Limentica, 35: 61–72.
Settles IH, O’Connor RC. 2014. Incivility at academic conferences: Gender differences and the mediating role of climate Sex Roles, 71: 71–82.
Tulloch AIT. 2020. Improving sex and gender identity equity and inclusion at conservation and ecology conferences. Nat Ecol Evol., 4: 1311–1320