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Look Who’s Talking at Colloquia

VU International News and Reviews No. 104 January 15 2018

January 2018

In an article on Gender disparities in colloquium speakers at top universities in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Christine Nittrouer from Rice University and her co-authors report on their analysis of Colloquium talks at prestigious universities, as these both create and reflect academic researchers’ reputations. Analysing 3652 talks in six academic disciplines, they found that men were more likely than women to be colloquium speakers, even after controlling for the gender and rank of the available speakers.

They managed to eliminate the alternative explanations that women might decline invitations more often by qualitative data from top researchers at top universities.

Instead they did find a positive correlation between the gender of session chairs and of session speakers, concluding that their data suggest that those who invite and schedule speakers serve as gender gatekeepers with the power to either create or reduce gender differences in academic reputations

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