Gender differences in conference presentations: a consequence of self-selection?

Therésa M. Jones*, Kerry V. Fanson, Rob Lanfear, Matthew R E Symonds, Megan Higgie

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    79 Citations (Scopus)
    22 Downloads (Pure)


    Women continue to be under-represented in the sciences, with their representation declining at each progressive academic level. These differences persist despite longrunning policies to ameliorate gender inequity. We compared gender differences in exposure and visibility at an evolutionary biology conference for attendees at two different academic levels: student and post-PhD academic. Despite there being almost exactly a 1:1 ratio of women and men attending the conference, we found that when considering only those who presented talks, women spoke for far less time than men of an equivalent academic level: on average student women presented for 23% less time than student men, and academic women presented for 17% less time than academic men. We conducted more detailed analyses to tease apart whether this gender difference was caused by decisions made by the attendees or through bias in evaluation of the abstracts. At both academic levels, women and men were equally likely to request a presentation. However, women were more likely than men to prefer a short talk, regardless of academic level. We discuss potential underlying reasons for this gender bias, and provide recommendations to avoid similar gender biases at future conferences.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere627
    Pages (from-to)1-15
    Number of pages15
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2014. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • Academic levels
    • Conference presentations
    • Evolutionary biology
    • Gender and science, Women in science
    • Gender difference
    • Leaky pipeline
    • Matilda effect
    • Scientific visibility
    • Talk preference


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