Added: Johathan Santucci - Date: 25.09.2021 18:04 - Views: 41990 - Clicks: 1303
The attrition of women in academic careers is a major concern, particularly in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics subjects. One factor that can contribute to the attrition is the lack of visible role models for women in academia. One common and formative setting to observe role models is the local departmental academic seminar, talk, or presentation.
From the survey responses of over academics in 20 countries, we found that women reported asking fewer questions after seminars compared to men. This impression was supported by observational data from almost seminars in 10 countries: women audience members asked absolutely and proportionally fewer questions than male audience members.
When asked why they did not ask questions when they wanted to, women, more than men, endorsed internal factors e. However, our observations suggest that structural factors might also play a role; when a man was the first to ask a question, or there were fewer questions, women asked proportionally fewer questions.
Attempts to counteract the latter effect by manipulating the time for questions in an effort to provoke more questions in two departments were unsuccessful.
We propose alternative recommendations for creating an environment that makes everyone feel more comfortable to ask questions, thus promoting equal visibility for women and members of other less visible groups. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attributionwhich permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Our employers had no role in study de, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. Competing interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
According to social role theory [ 4 ], people tend to make inferences about which characteristics are needed to be successful in a given role by examining the characteristics of the people who most predominantly occupy that role.
Because women are often underrepresented in the later career stages in academic science, it is possible that women and other underrepresented minority groups might infer that they do not possess or want to express the relevant characteristics for senior faculty positions and therefore do not belong in those particular careers, as has been shown in the medical field [ 5 ].
Furthermore, when people do not have first-hand knowledge of their own level of performance in a given domain, they look to the performance of similar others i. For these reasons, observing successful models, with whom one can easily relate, is critical for encouraging larger s of underrepresented group members to enter and remain in that field [ 9 ]. In addition to a general pattern of gender inequality in academic posts, women and men—and their contributions—may not be equally visible or equally valued.
In addition, when considering contributions to individual papers, women were more likely than men to be credited with performing the experiments i. Just as many factors have been proposed to explain the leaky pipeline, various factors have been cited to explain these differences in the representation of women and men in academia. For example, the difference in citations has been explained in part by the fact that women cite themselves less often than men do, and men cite other men more than they cite women [ 14 ].
One forum where this occurs is at international conferences, where differences in visibility are known to occur: women are less likely than men, and less likely than expected given their proportional representation in a field, to give talks at conferences, and more likely to contribute to less prestigious and less visible alternatives, such as posters [ 16 — 18 ]. Although some part of this underrepresentation may be due to selection bias, other explanations have been proposed; for example, women are more likely to decline invitations to give a talk [ 18 ], and more likely to seek out shorter rather than longer talks [ 19 ].
Another way in which women are less visible at conferences is in their question-asking behaviour: a small of studies have reported that women ask proportionally fewer questions than men at these events [ 20 — 22 ]. In this study, we examine a form of visibility that is more common and frequent, and apparent earlier in the pipeline i. Social role theory suggests that women should benefit from being exposed to successful ingroup role models at all points along the leaky pipeline.
Before attending academic conferences and seeing women present their work, and before gaining a familiarity with the authors of papers in a particular research area, undergraduate and postgraduate students are exposed to the role-modelled behaviours of the women and men who work in their department.
Given social role theory explanations for how gendered expectations of certain roles develop based on who is seen occupying those roles, we argue that the behaviour of the local community may play a formative role in identifying ingroup role models at an early career stage. Few studies have investigated such local phenomena, but these reveal a potential bias against women. Such differences in behaviour might emerge through reinforcement: during the early years of schooling girls are slightly more likely than boys to raise their hands to ask a question but teachers are less likely to choose them to answer [ 24 ].
Our aims were to determine whether women and men differ in their visibility at academic seminars and which factors might underlie any differences. With regards to the first aim, we tested the hypothesis that women would ask fewer questions at departmental seminars, thus limiting their potential visibility to others. With regard to the second aim, we were interested in perceptions of question-asking in seminars, to understand the motivations and beliefs that underlie any disparity. Thus, our data collection also took two approaches.
Second, we collected observational data at almost seminars in 10 countries to quantify the attendance and question-asking behaviour of women and men in departmental seminars. Using these two data sets, we asked three questions. First, we asked whether there was a gender disparity in the question-asking of audience members in academic seminars Question 1. Using the survey data, we asked both women and men why they did not ask questions when they wanted to, and for those that thought there was a gender disparity in question-asking, we asked why they believed there to be a disparity Q2a.
Next, we used our observational data to identify factors associated with the disparity Q2b. Finally, we aimed to explore ways of addressing the disparity Q3. We also asked the survey respondents what they thought could be done to ameliorate the gender disparity Q3b. Participants declared their consent prior to participation and could withdraw from the survey at any time or leave any question unanswered. After completion, participants were briefed about the purpose of the study and provided with contact information in case they wanted further details.
No identifying information was collected during the survey, and all data were pooled prior to analyses. To ensure data privacy, the survey was administered through Qualtrics from an institutional at the University of Cambridge. The survey was advertised via social media Twitter, Facebook and s to relevant academic groups, and was active between 16th June and 22nd August The survey asked for details on the participants gender, academic subject, career stage, countrythe structure of academic seminars at their institution e.
Finally, we asked for their impression of any gender disparity in question-asking and potential reasons for it for the full survey de see S1 File. We disguised our specific interest in a gender disparity by also asking whether question-asking behaviour was related to seniority, confidence, extraversion, and competence. Data on these distractor questions were not analysed in this study. To determine the extent of the gender disparity in question-asking during academic seminars, we observed seminars and recruited colleagues through personal contact to do the same.
Observers were in the same fields as the authors biology or psychologychosen to represent as much geographic distribution as possible; they were based in 10 different countries and 35 different institutions. Data were collected opportunistically during seminars that the observers normally attended in their institutions and these seminars are therefore likely to be a representative sample of the broader experiences of academics.
We provided all observers with written guidelines prior to the start of their observations see S2 File. During the initial period of observations at the University of Cambridge, two of us AJC and DL attended six seminars together but independently scored them. This yielded identical observations regarding the gender of the first person to ask a question and the total of questions asked by each gender, and the counts of the audience s were within 0—2 people, suggesting that the guidelines are sufficiently specific for comparison across observers.
For each seminar, observers recorded: whether the speaker was an external visitor or affiliated with the hosting institution; the gender of the speaker; the start and end time of the presentation, and the start and end time of the question period after the presentation; the of women and men in the audience; the of questions asked by women and by men; and the gender of the person asking the first question.
We recorded gender as perceived by the observer. As we wanted a measure of the potential opportunities for the visibility of each gender, observers recorded the total of questions including multiple questions from the same personrather than the total of different people asking questions. This is because after most talks, there is a limited amount of time for questions; multiple questions asked by the same questioner therefore raises the visibility of that particular gender in proportion to the of questions asked.
Based on this preliminary finding, we hypothesised that we could increase the of questions asked by women by increasing the amount of time devoted to questions after seminars. We thus deed a manipulation at two institutions to test whether decreasing the length of talks and thus, theoretically, increasing the time allotted to questions would lead to more equal question-asking from male and female audience members.
This format is deed to encourage a more discursive and inclusive question session in our department. Our analyses were conducted in R v3. For each, we list the approach and specifications in the below. Generalised and linear mixed models were analysed using the lme4 package [ 25 ]; because this package does not report p -values for linear mixed models, we considered t -values over 1. We restricted our analyses to the responses of women and men given the small of respondents who did not consider themselves within theseresulting in a sample of responses for our analyses.
The participants who completed the online survey were from 19 different countries 9 participants did not provide information about country and 28 fields of study 28 participants did not provide information about field of study. Observational data were collected at seminars, from 42 departments of 35 institutions in 10 countries. We retained the pilot data collected at the University of Cambridge and the seminars that were subject to the experimental manipulation, since we found no effect of our manipulation on the time given to questions see below. We aimed to quantify whether academics perceive a gender disparity in the proportions of men and women who ask questions in seminars, and whether this perception differs according to gender.
A a scatter plot of the proportion of women in the audience plotted against the proportion of questions asked by women after a seminar, b a histogram of the size of the disparity at each seminar, and c a barchart of the beliefs of each gender about whether there is a disparity. Panel a shows a visual representation of the disparity in the proportion of questions asked by women i. Points falling in the lower orange half of the plot indicate a disparity towards men, whilst points falling in the upper green half indicate a disparity towards women audience members.
Indicated are two seminars that fall in different. The green arrow indicates a seminar with a bias towards questions from women, in which the proportion of women in the audience was 0. Conversely, the orange arrow indicates a seminar with a bias towards questions from men, in which the proportion of women in the audience was 0. Panel b shows the frequency at which the disparities were observed, with orange bins indicating seminars with questions disproportionately asked by male audience members and green bins indicating seminars with questions disproportionately asked by female audience members.
In both panels, the red line indicates no disparity i. Panel c shows the proportions of female green and male orange respondents who indicated that they believed that men or women asked more questions in seminars, or that questions were asked equally by men and women. These perceptions about a gender disparity in question-asking were borne out by the self-report data.
To test whether the proportion of questions asked by women differed from the proportion of women present in the audience, we ran a two-tailed t-test comparing the difference in these proportions to 0 no difference. We asked them what prevented them from asking a question in these cases on a Likert scale from 1 not at all important to 5 extremely important.
Overall, men and women differed in their ratings of the importance of each reason for not having asked a question Fig 2dark circles; Table 1except for the reason that they were meeting with the speaker after the seminar not shown.I have a question for the women
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