Monday, December 8, 2008

Gender Ratio in Departmental Seminar series

So, ever since I wrote about Being on the Circuit, I've been wondering about the truth behind the General's Disarray new tactic for convincing me to actually get on a plane and give departmental seminar talks.

In my experience, invitations to speak at departmental seminars often arise from either a colleague issuing an invite and/or an internal nomination process with a committee (sometimes the committee is really just one person) deciding who to invite from the nominations. There are also other modes for generating speakers (i.e., press gangs roaming the department looking for students and assistant professors who may have promotion or Ph.D defense obligations), but General Disarray's argument has made me wonder what exactly is the proportion of women giving departmental seminars in a seminar series? Obviously, I have shown myself prone to obsessive compulsive data collection, but I thought this might be more fun, (and less detrimental to my tenure aspirations) if my readers helped me with this. So....if you have a few spare minutes (ha ha ha), and are also interested in this, feel free to send me the following information on whatever seminar series you tend to attend:

Number of speakers, number of women

It might also be interesting to know what the proportion of women is in the group the seminar is for (i.e. if it's a departmental seminar, then the proportion of female faculty -  I know, I know this ignores the grad students and post-docs but this can be difficult info to get) to get an idea if the gender representation of the seminar series represent the group for whom the seminar series serves (I actually suspect the gender ratio of those invited to speak is lower than the department's).... I could ask for much much more info, but its the end of the semester and I don't want to overladen people - besides this is just for curiosity. Feel free to either leave the info here as a comment or email me at (as I'm warming up to the idea that the blogosphere actually likes to talk back - not in a pejorative sense - I've decided to experiment with actually having an 'official' email address for the blog. If I decide it doesn't freak me out too much, I'll make it permanent)

To lead the way, here's the info for the seminar I attend:

8 speakers, 1 woman, 29% female at host institution

Thanks for indulging me! I promise to compile and present in a future post!


saxifraga said...

For the past year at University above the Arctic Circle: 34 seminars given, 13 given by women (38%). Scientific staff: 70% men, 30% women. It probably plays a role that our seminar series is open (i.e. people can invite themselves to give seminars, and relies heavily on internal speakers)

B said...

I'm an engineer and recently attended a seminar in Biological Sciences. It kind of freaked me out to see woman after woman enter the seminar room. It was like being on a another planet. The speaker was female as well. I can't remember the last time I was at an engineering/chemistry seminar that had a female speaker (unless I was the one speaking). My department has just acquired its two female faculty (me being one). So we've gone from zero to about 20% female -- more like 13% if you include the adjuncts and assorted hangers-on).

Katie said...

In my division 4 out of 22 faculty are women. 10 seminar speakers this year, all male.

Odyssey said...

Alas my department really, really sucks in this regard. Among the regular faculty (not adjuncts, second appointees etc) have just two women and twenty men... Looking at the 2008 calendar year seminar schedule - four women out of fourteen speakers.

DamnGoodTechnician said...

Sounds like MassivePharma runs its seminars a bit differently. Our department (approximately 300 people) has a weekly seminar series. Over the past six weeks (since my little bitty department was endocytosed by the big massive department), the seminar speakers have been five women & one guy. The speakers who present at this seminar are all lab heads, and at that level the departmental breakdown is 2:1 (32 men and 16 women).

yolio said...

I attend an informal seminar that draws mostly from the rather substantial pool of local talent. This fall we had 9 speakers, 3 of which were female.

This was surprisingly high for the department, so I looked a little deeper and found that those women were a master student, a PhD student and a postdoc. Whereas the six men were two full professors, one assistant prof and two postdocs.

Anonymous said...

I have been voicing my concerns about this for a year now. With the budget crisis, now bringing seminar speakers for next semester (maybe year) is off. In the school I am in, not a SINGLE INVITED FEMALE FACULTY SPEAKER. The women who give seminars are defending their theses (which is why the menz keep telling me "what gender problem? Liz just presented!!11!! and so did Jessica!!)

So here's the numbers (although I already deleted the emailed list and am relying on the crappily-updated website) for the year:

Women, non-faculty: 3
Men, non-faculty: 5
Women, prof: 0
Men, prof: 4*

*Of course, these are all DISTINGUISHED speakers.

yolio said...

Update: Yeah, there were actually three male postdoc speakers. Addition skillz can be useful.

Albatross said...

This semester we had 4 women out of 10 total seminars. Two of those were internal postdocs- one man and one woman.

Anonymous said...

This semester, going from the list of all talks given (including student presentations in seminar and/or thesis defenses as well as talks given by candidates for assistant professor and also general-outside-the-department-speakers). . . we had 10 male and 1 female external speakers, meaning that they were either job candidates or external speakers. Of internal presentations, 2 male and 4 female students presented research or thesis defenses.

Of our faculty, 23 are male, 4 are female.

Anonymous said...

38 Seminars scheduled for the term, 15 by women, 1 by an outside (male) prof. That's about right for the departmental make-up, I think. We draft pretty much all faculty, plus whatever lecturers/grad students happen to be near the faculty at the time we catch them.