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Participation Analysis

A new study suggests women tend to participate less at scientific and medical conferences, the Guardian reports, noting that a few format tweaks could boost involvement.

Researchers from Imperial College London examined female participation at two UK Society for Endocrinology annual meetings, one in 2017 and one in 2018, and analyzed questions and comments made during dozens of sessions at the conferences. For the 2018 meeting, the researchers sought to boost the participation of female attendees by asking organizers to ask more female society members to chair sessions and to ask session chairs to offer the opening question to a female participant, if possible.

As they report in the Lancet: Diabetes and Endocrinology, the researchers found that at both meetings, women asked fewer questions than men, despite gender balance among the attendees. But women did ask a higher portion of the questions in 2018 than they did in 2017. In 2017, 24 percent of the questions or comments were from women, while in 2018 that rose to 35 percent.

"There are still clear differences in male and female behavior," first author Victoria Salem from Imperial College London tells the Guardian. "Whatever the cause, whether it's social engineering or biology, we need to somehow address that and take that into account when we are delivering platforms that are about equal access to science."