R-Ladies: For More Balance in the R Community!

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #BalanceForBetter. So, we decided that we’d like to take this opportunity to promote an organisation that supports and empowers women and gender minorities in STEM fields that still suffer from underrepresentation. As a journal, we publish a lot of articles on software and code that are used in the study of different fields in ecology and evolutionary biology. We have a wide audience of R coders and R users who follow us on social media and read our blog. With that in mind, R-Ladies seemed like a fairly obvious group for us to promote…

Post provided by MAËLLE SALMON and HANNAH FRICK, two members of the R-LADIES GLOBAL TEAM.

What is R-Ladies?

R-Ladies is a global grassroots organisation whose aim is to promote gender diversity in the R community. The R community suffers from an underrepresentation of gender minorities (including but not limited to cis/trans women, trans men, non-binary, genderqueer, agender). This can be seen in every role and area of participation: leaders, package developers, conference speakers, conference participants, educators, users (see recent stats). What a waste of talent!

As a diversity initiative, the mission of R-Ladies is to achieve proportionate representation by encouraging, inspiring, and empowering people of genders currently underrepresented in the R community. So our primary focus is on supporting minority gender R enthusiasts to achieve their programming potential. We’re doing this by building a collaborative global network of R leaders, mentors, learners, and developers to help and encourage individual and collective progress worldwide. Continue reading

International Women’s Day: What Inspired You to Pursue a Career in Science?

Tomorrow (Tuesday 8 March) is International Women’s Day. To celebrate, we asked  our female Editors a few questions about gender equality (and other issues) in STEM and we’ll be posting their answers over the next four days.

We begin our International Women’s Day posts on a positive note, finding out a little more about our Editors. The first question that we asked them was: What made you want to pursue a career in science and were there any female scientists in particular who inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?

Jana VamosiJana Vamosi: I had no idea what I wanted to do until I was well into my twenties. I took a class in Evolutionary Biology at the end of my undergraduate degree. I loved learning the unifying theories and applying my nascent skills in biomathematics. I went on to start graduate studies with Dr Sally Otto at the University of British Columbia and her mentorship inspired me to consider a career in STEM.

Rachel_MccreaRachel McCrea: I always loved mathematics at school but never realised you could make a career out of it.  I didn’t think about my career path as such when choosing what to study at university but just chose a subject that I enjoyed.  My two (female) A-level maths teachers are to thank for me not pursuing medicine or veterinary science as they really supported me and taught me double-maths at A-level, even though only myself and one other student chose to take it.  I was inspired by Simon Singh’s book on Fermat’s Last Theorem and whilst at university I discovered that even though pure mathematics was not for me I really liked statistics so decided to study for an MSc.  Since then I have never turned back!  Continue reading

Methods 5th Anniversary Symposium: A Gender Balanced Event?

Post provided by Alison Johnston

The Methods in Ecology and Evolution Symposium was an excellent conference with dynamic and interesting speakers representing a wide range of topics which have been published in the journal over the last five years. It was an unusual conference for a couple of reasons:

  1. It wasn’t all in one place. Talks were relayed between London and Calgary (during convenient times!), a couple of speakers presented via Skype from neither location and it was watched via livestream.com by hundreds of other participants
  2. There were equal numbers of male and female presenters. In my experience this gender balance of invited speakers is unusual and notable

Equal attendance
The gender balance of the speakers encouraged me to look around the room and write down a few figures for other gender dimensions of the London section of the symposium. As well as equal gender representation of speakers, there was also a good gender balance in the attendees – 42% of the attendees were female at the time I wrote down the numbers. These two figures suggest that it was a good conference for gender equality. However, I think these headline figures hide a number of more tricky aspects of gender equality.

Questionable numbers
There were a total of 23 questions asked of the 12 speakers presenting or livestreamed in London and only 3 of these were from women (2 out of 22 if I exclude my own question to reduce any investigator effects). These data points are not independent, as some people asked several questions, but I didn’t keep a record of individuals. Twitter revealed a similar reduced female presence compared to attendance: of those people tweeting to #Methods5th only 37% were women.

Proportion of different symposium participants that were female. Half the speakers and nearly half the attendees were female. But only just over 10% of questions were asked by women.

Proportion of different symposium participants that were female. Half the speakers and nearly half the attendees were female. But only around 10% of questions were asked by women.

Continue reading