Equal opportunity



In 2017 the ESEB Equal Opportunities Committee started tracking gender balance for proposed symposia and invited speakers for the yearly ESEB Conferences. For ESEB 2018 there were 197 symposium proposals of which 75 were accepted. Based on this data, the committee has made the following observations:
-    The sex ratio of symposia organizers and invited speakers (Fig.1) was slightly biased toward males and did not differ from baseline populations of ESEB non-student members (detailed in Schroeder et al 2013).
-    The presence/number of female organizers did not affect the sex ratio of invited speakers.
-    There is no detectable bias in the selection procedure since the gender proportions remained practically unchanged after acceptance.
-    This pattern seems consistent with the previous edition of the ESEB Conference (2017) considering that there was more than 2x applications this year.
-    The organizers of the 197 proposed symposia came from 29 countries (Fig. 2).
-    For the accepted symposia, the majority of organizers are from the USA and France, another 24 countries are therein represented.

Fig.1: The sex ratio of symposia organisers and invited speakers for the ESEB Conference 2018. Data from 10/11/17, when 3 symposia had still to confirm their invited speakers.

Fig.2: Countries represented by symposia organizers, according to institutional affiliation.

Schroeder, J., Dugdale, H. L., Radersma, R., Hinsch, M., Buehler, D. M., Saul, J., et al. (2013). Fewer invited talks by women in evolutionary biology symposia. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 26(9), 2063–2069. http://doi.org/10.1111/jeb.12198


To make the Second Joint Conference on Evolutionary Biology inclusive and diverse, a number of guidelines were proposed by the Equal Opportunity Committee of ESEB:

Conference organizers are responsible for:

  • Ensuring the organizing and scientific committees for the event are diverse and gender balanced on all hierarchy levels.
  • Choosing venues that are accessible for people with disabilities.
  • Offering and advertising affordable professional childcare services during the congress, which should also be conveniently located with respect to the venue.
  • Collecting data that encompasses the use of childcare and feedback from users that helps to improve future childcare services.
  • Communicating best practice guidelines to the scientific committee and symposium organizers.  
  • Collecting data on diversity of the congress committees, symposium organizers (all submitted proposals, and successful proposals), invited speakers (for submitted symposia, and for successful symposia), congress attendants, regular speakers, and poster presenters.
  • Advertising "Congress Attendance Aid Grants" to increase the number of female speakers and poster presenters.

The scientific committee members are responsible for:

  • Ensuring that the all groups chosen for the congress, such as the invited speakers and symposium organizers, are diverse and gender balanced.
  • Considering issues of diversity and equal opportunities when choosing symposia.  In particular, symposium organizers should not present in their own symposium.
  • In the context of this Joint Conference, we asked members of the scientific committee to organize additional symposia to fill obvious gaps in the program in the absence of alternative proposals among those received. In other instances, members of the Scientific Committee could not be symposia organizers.
  • Ensuring that the group of invited speakers for symposia is diverse and gender balanced, that there are not too many repeated invitations (i.e., same invited speakers as last conference), and avoiding invited speakers being invited to speak in more than one symposium.
  • Informing symposium organizers that ESEB offers "Congress Attendance Aid Grants" to increase the number of female speakers and poster presenters.

Symposium organizers are responsible for:

  • Ensuring that invited speakers and speakers selected from abstracts for their symposium is diverse and gender balanced.
  • Considering issues of diversity and equal opportunity when choosing the contributed talks.
  • Using "Congress Attendance Aid Grants" to increase the number of female speakers and poster presenters.
  • Considering a blind reviewing process of submissions for contributed talks, at least for the initial rounds, to create a ranking of the abstracts. However, before making final decisions, it may be helpful to know more about the participants to ensure diversity of gender, level of seniority, country of origin etc.
  • Contacting the Equal Opportunity Committee if they encounter difficulties recruiting a diverse line-up of speakers.