Prestigious Medical Journal The Lancet Commits to No All‑Male Panels
The Lancet Group, one of the oldest and most prestigious collection of medical journals in the world, recently trailblazed their way towards equal representation of women in STEM fields. They committed to banning all-male panels, also called ‘manels,’ in a Diversity Pledge designed to foster inclusion in research and publishing across gender and ethnicity.
In addition to not hosting all-male panels, The Lancet editors will also “not serve as panelists at a public conference or event when there are no women on the panel,” the organization tweeted out. “For events that we organize or plan, we aim for at least 50% female speakers. Our preference is for women to be included as panelists, not only as chairs or moderators.”
Earlier this year, The Lancet had released a gender equity issue, which outlined the dearth of women in STEM globally, and the reasons for women’s lack of participation. In addition to a lack of educational opportunities and encouragement available to young girls and a high drop-out rate among college-going women, The Lancet had identified a ‘masculine contest culture’ in science-related fields that prevented women from succeeding in otherwise male-dominated environments. The Lancet had declared a change in approach — reform from the ground up — as being imperative to end the hostility women experience in STEM fields. Now, it seems The Lancet is leading by example.
“We recognize that publication is a chief currency within science, medicine, and public health. It is key to the ability of women and people of color to contribute, receive recognition, and accrue the experience, visibility, and achievement to compete for advancement,” Dr. Richard Horton, Editor-in-Chief of The Lancet, said in a statement. “As editors and journals, we are just one part of an ecosystem that includes academic institutions and funders where gender bias is well-documented, and of a broader society that disadvantages certain groups to create an uneven playing field. But we are committed to being the change we want to see, and to playing our part in helping create diversity and inclusion in health research and publishing. We encourage other publishers, journals, and members of the science community to contribute to these pledges.”
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As part of its commitment toward ensuring diversity, The Lancet has also pledged to have women constitute at least 50% of the advisory boards of all 18 of its journals. The goal has already been accomplished for eight of them, the organization reported and should be realized for the other 10 before the end of 2019.
The Lancet’s show of solidarity is amongst a wider movement by science organizations to include more women in their operations, as glaring disparity has is beginning to be realized in the uppermost echelons of scientific innovation. The director of the National Institutes of Health in the U.S., Dr. Francis Collins, for example, also committed not to attend any all-male panels, TIME reported.
While inclusion in STEM has focused on increasing participation of young girls and women in science — 85% of Indian women said they didn’t face any family bias against pursuing a STEM career, according to a study by Open University, UK, in partnership with NASSCOM — little has been done to make women’s professional careers in STEM easier. They face sexism and a lack of opportunities for progress once they settle into a profession. 81% of Indian women said they perceived a gender bias in performance evaluations, according to a Kelly Global Workforce Insights survey on Women in STEM.
It’s not enough to open up STEM doors to women; it’s also important to evaluate what happens when they step through them.