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SAN FRANCISCO — The organizers wanted to do something different with their new meeting, as a corrective to what frustrated them about the usual scientific gatherings. And then one of the planners suggested an idea: What if they only invited women on stage?

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  • I love how it is “proportionate to expertise” when the bias is working against women (or other minorities), including such blatant examples as JPM, but it’s sexist when there is any effort to change things.

  • Pure sexism on display. Equal representation is no longer sufficient. It now must be women only, even in the bio realm where parity is common or women slightly exceed the number of men. To select speakers based on sex is just plain wrong.

  • It is biased and sexist. There are literally more women in colleges and universities then men these days because so much of our education system has pandered to female needs over the last 30 years while boy continue to struggle in school and drugged with medicines like Ritalin at rates that far exceed that of girls…for simply being boys. Stop acting like the biological and medical sciences have a lack of women in it. That’s far from the truth. Should they have conferences on childcare, elementary education, and nursing that only feature male speakers? I also don’t see outrage over the lack of women represented in hazardous jobs, as >90% of all work related fatalities are suffered by men. There are numerous avenues that exist solely for women. Women get easily get grants and awards much easier than a man can if they want to start a business. All sorts of scholarships and grants exist solely for women in STEM. At my undergrad university where housing was limited, female engineers only were guaranteed housing for 4 years while male students had to find off campus housing in less safe and more expensive areas. The NIH has all sorts of grants for women only, and for years it was only bring your ‘daughters’ to work day. Meanwhile boys are actually the ones struggling by every single conceivable objective scoring metric used to evaluate educational performance. Maybe it is because the entire system has been skewed for far too long against teaching boys in an effective manner and dealing with their different behavior other than using drugs.

    • Wow,
      Not even going to argue with someone who has so many unconscious biases to be so blind. There are significant differences between men and women in the workforce and at universities and having a voice at the table. Today women may get to the table yet still not have their voices heard. It is not even close to parity between genders. This conference was just making a social stance to make a point. I think it was brilliant. I have sons who graduated in engineering and they quickly tell me how women in their classes and project teams would have to work much harder and were often over were talked over by male classmates and often even the professors. They have admiration for all the women who persevered in this environment. They only want to work for a company that takes diversity and inclusion very seriously.

  • I can understand the WSJ criticism- so, I suggest adjusting the representation to mirror what we commonly see at scientific conferences. In this case, that would be 25 women and 2 men.

    • What evidence can you provide that typical conference representation, with a lot of men, does not reflect professional expertise? About 94% of registered dietitians are female. Should we still expect that half of dietetics conference speakers are male? As of 2017, a whopping 80% of enrollees in colleges of veterinary medicine were female. As women have come to dominate that profession, should we still expect that half of the speakers at vet conferences be male? Should the NBA all-star game consist of the best players or of representation by race mirroring the general population?

  • “Another big annual industry conference, hosted by the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, featured 25 all-male panels last June.”

    So where were these “equality” groups when that happened? Suddenly it becomes a problem when it’s the other way around…

    • The all-male panel wasn’t expressly (or probably even consciously) discriminatory. In the same way, the NBA deserves no criticism for fielding teams of disproportionately Black players, since the the objective is the have the best talent, not the darkest skins. Women can all the discriminatory panels they want, but not at public universities.

  • As an organizer of a large national gathering I celebrate this plan. We have been very purposeful over the years about the makeup of our speakers and it has resulted in magority identify female and majority non-white speakers and our conference is so much better for it.

    • So you are a a racist and a sexist? Nice to know your organization is NOT inclusive. Can you explain why a persons skin color or gender makes a professional organization better? Does skin color proportionate to performance? If so, can you explain why?

  • There are better ways to point out that intentional demographic screening in science is counterproductve than showcasing your own intentional demographic screening. Quite wrong-headed…

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