Invisible women

A group of 80 neuroscientists, mostly women, launched an initiative in 2015 to combat a gender bias observed at scientific conferences in their field of knowledge: the low percentage of female lecturers. Dubbed BiasWatchNeuro, the group consists of researchers from the United States, Germany, Australia, Italy, France and the United Kingdom. The group has already monitored programs from more than 90 conferences and workshops, and at the same time it mapped the percentage of female researchers in neuroscience. At a meeting on the use of large volumes of data in neuroscience, held in September 2016, all the lecturers were male, even though females account for 20% of computational neurology researchers in the United States. The publication of the lopsided figures has begun to produce some positive effects. At an annual computational systems and neuroscience meeting – COSYNE – women accounted for almost 40% of lecturers in 2016 (no women were invited in 2004). An editorial in the journal Nature urged other areas of knowledge to follow suit: “Female scientists, you have nothing to lose but your invisibility.”