Male Bias In Anthropology Conferences
    By News Staff | November 22nd 2012 03:01 AM | 2 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments

    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 an analysis published in PLOS ONE. 

    The authors examined female participation at major scientific conferences for primate scientists and anthropologists, where symposia are largely by invitation but posters and other talks are initiated by participants. They found that within the field of primatology, women give more posters than talks, whereas men give more talks than posters. 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. In their discussion of these findings, the authors say, "Regardless of the cause of gender bias against women in invitations to prestigious symposia, its discovery requires attention in a field that is exemplary in being gender-blind in so many other ways."

     Lynne Isbell from the University of California, Davis says, "It is difficult to imagine in this day and age that a gender bias by men against women in primatology could exist, but the evidence clearly reveals the sad truth. If it is still happening in a science that is so heavily represented by women, what does that mean for other sciences where women remain in the minority?"


    It would be interesting to know the ages involved as well. When you have all male organisers do they tend to be older? Are younger men any less biased than older men?

    They'd have to be older because younger researchers don't have tenure so they work a lot more.  This is also an academic problem, not a science-wide one. There is no gender bias in science in the private sector because the people most likely to find it in every hidden corner go into academia instead.  We're also talking about a social science and not a real science, so it attracts more than its share of zealots.

    Claims of gender bias in the social sciences - which are 70% women - in liberal, tolerant academia, should be greeted with skepticism.  There is one anthropologist anyone in the world outside anthropology has heard of, and she is a woman.