Towards women-inclusive ecology: Representation, behavior, and perception of women at an international conference.

Lupon, Anna; Rodríguez-Lozano, Pablo; Bartrons, Mireia; Anadon-Rosell, Alba; Batalla, M.; Bernal, Susana; Bravo, Andrea G.; Capdevila, Pol; Cañedo-Argüelles, Miguel; Catalán, Núria; Genua-Olmedo, Ana; Gutiérrez-Cánovas, Cayetano; Feio, Maria J.; Lucati, Federica; Onandia, Gabriela; Poblador, Sílvia; Rotchés-Ribalta, Roser; Sala-Bubaré, Anna; Sánchez-Montoya, María Mar; Sebastián, Marta; Zufiaurre, Aitziber; Pastor, Ada.  PLoS ONE 16(12): e0260163 (2021)  DIGITAL CSIC  

Conferences are ideal platforms for studying gender gaps in science because they are important cultural events that reflect barriers to women in academia. Here, we explored women’s participation in ecology conferences by analyzing female representation, behavior, and personal experience at the 1st Meeting of the Iberian Society of Ecology (SIBECOL). The conference had 722 attendees, 576 contributions, and 27 scientific sessions. The gender of attendees and presenters was balanced (48/52% women/men), yet only 29% of the contributions had a woman as last author. Moreover, men presented most of the keynote talks (67%) and convened most of the sessions. Our results also showed that only 32% of the questions were asked by women, yet the number of questions raised by women increased when the speaker or the convener was a woman. Finally, the post-conference survey revealed that attendees had a good experience and did not perceive the event as a threatening context for women. Yet, differences in the responses between genders suggest that women tended to have a worse experience than their male counterparts. Although our results showed clear gender biases, most of the participants of the conference failed to detect it. Overall, we highlight the challenge of increasing women’s scientific leadership, visibility and interaction in scientific conferences and we suggest several recommendations for creating inclusive meetings, thereby promoting equal opportunities for all participants.