In the JOBIM 2021 conference, we are launching a pilot project on gender speaking differences in academia. Through this evidence-based and mixed-method study, we intend to answer the following question: how to create the conditions for gender-equal expression in scientific conferences?
Objective of the study
Most scientists would agree that success in science should solely be determined by the merit of one’s contributions. However, success in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) is still profoundly influenced by race, gender and socioeconomic status. For instance, numerous studies documented the gender bias throughout the publication process: women publish less than men, are less likely to be in first position among authors who contributed equally, and are less cited than men. These disparities impact careers as publication productivity and citations are key elements in evaluation processes. Gender disparities are also noticeable on less externally constrained behaviours such as the number of questions asked in large scientific conferences. Yet, as concerning as this overview may be, collective discussions among scientific peers have proven to efficiently mitigate the gender-gap in question-asking behaviour. Encouraged by this precedent, we think that scientific conferences, by their collective nature, are the ideal opportunity to discuss these inequities and challenge them. In the line of previous studies conducted by Tellis et al and Carter et al , we propose to foster a discussion on inclusivity during the upcoming JOBIM conference (Journées Ouvertes en Biologie et Mathématiques). To this end, an expert anthropologist Junhanlu Zhang will lead an observational study on the JOBIM conference with the support of two research engineers (Rachel Torchet and Hanna Julienne) of the Institut Pasteur HUB of Bioinformatics and Biostatistics.
Methodology and project implementation
This original study will be at the interface between social science and quantitative science. In order to collect necessary data for the study, apart from gathering relevant information from the registration survey, we will ask willing participants to complete a post-conference survey. The survey questions will cover some basic demographic information and focus on question-asking behaviours during the JOBIM conference. During the conference, a participatory and observational study will be performed under detailed guidelines. Finally, we will conduct in-depth interviews with participants randomly selected amongst those who give their permission to be part of this study. All data will later be analysed in a scientific manner with adoption of qualitative research approaches.
We will present this initiative during the JOBIM opening session where participants can learn more about the project and are welcomed to join us for a discussion. We hope this observational and in-depth study will give us insights on how to create a more inclusive scientific environment for people of all genders and progress one step further toward a scientific community that would not overlook any worthy contributions.
If you have further questions about the project or would like to share your insights with us, please contact us at email@example.com. To get in touch with individual researchers of the project, please refer to the following contact list:
Junhanlu Zhang (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Eng. Rachel Torchet (email@example.com)
Dr. Hanna Julienne (firstname.lastname@example.org).
This study is funded and supported by the Institut Pasteur HUB of Bioformatics and Biostatics