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Emily A. Cooper, Ana Radonjić; Gender representation in the vision sciences: A longitudinal study. Journal of Vision 2016;16(1):17. doi: 10.1167/16.1.17.
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© 2016 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.
Understanding the current status and historical trends of gender representation within a research field is an important component of fostering a diverse and inclusive scientific community. Here, we report on the gender representation of a large sample of the vision science research community—the attendees of the Annual Meeting of the Vision Sciences Society (VSS). Our analysis shows that the majority of scientists at all career levels in our sample are male. This imbalance is most pronounced for the senior scientists, whereas predoctoral students are nearly balanced between the genders. Historically, the gender imbalance was larger than it is at present, and it has followed a slow-but-steady trend toward gender parity over the past decade. A longitudinal analysis based on tracking individual attendees shows a larger dropout rate for female than male predoctoral trainees. However, among the trainees who continue in the vision science field after graduate school, evidence suggests that career advancement is quite similar between the genders. In an additional analysis, we found that the VSS Young Investigator awardees and the abstract review committee members reflect substantial gender imbalances, suggesting that these recognitions have yet to catch up with the greater gender balance of the rising generation of junior vision scientists. We hope that this report will encourage awareness of issues of diversity in the scientific community and further promote the development of a research field in which all talented scientists are supported to succeed.
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