Paul L. Caron
Dean


Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Is It Time To Ban 'Manels' (All-Male Panels) In The Academy?

#ManelsChronicle of Higher Education, NIH Leader Shuns All-Male Panels. Many Applaud the Gesture, but Not All.:

In late March, Francis S. Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, was on a plane returning to Bethesda from a visit to the University of Washington. On the West Coast, he heard an earful, not for the first time, about sexual harassment and an unwelcoming atmosphere toward women in science.

Collins has focused on diversity at the NIH for years — for instance, appointing the Stanford cardiologist Hannah Valantine, in 2014, as the institutes’ first Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity. He’d heard concerns about "manels," all-male panels at scientific conferences — often not only all male but all white — and he had been on them. The "disproportionate overrepresentation of white men," he said in a phone interview on Thursday, is "really not the way we should be handling these kinds of gatherings for the betterment of science."

"I was thinking, What else can we do? I could simply say I’m not going to" participate.

So this week Collins announced that "starting now, when I consider speaking invitations, I will expect a level playing field, where scientists of all backgrounds are evaluated fairly for speaking opportunities. If that attention to inclusiveness is not evident in the agenda, I will decline to take part. I challenge other scientific leaders across the biomedical enterprise to do the same."

In the statement, Collins cites an influential 2018 report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine called "Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine." ...

Collins said on Thursday that he’s "getting a wonderful outpouring of emails today" from people supportive of the move.

And many, but not all, voiced their approval to The Chronicle as well.

"It’s about time," said Margaret W. Rossiter, a professor emerita of the history of science at Cornell University. Rossiter wrote a three-volume history of women and science, a project that she said "was considered esoteric and almost laughable" when she began it in the 1970s. "Professors were so hostile." ...

But not everyone is as enthusiastic.

"I am dismayed by Dr. Collins’s announcement," wrote Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars, in a statement to The Chronicle. "It is both in substance and spirit antiscience. The NIH should be focused on the quality of the science it supports, not the chromosomes of panel members at science conferences. The National Academy of Sciences raised an important social and moral issue in its report on sexual harassment of women in academic science, engineering, and medicine, but Dr. Collins’s response is merely a theatrical gesture — and a badly misjudged one as well."

BBC, Only Men At Your Event? This Blog Will Shame You:

How often have you looked around at a meeting or in the office, lecture hall or event space and seen a room full of just men?

Now one website is pointing out this phenomenon by publishing photos of all-male panels, or "manels". The site is a Tumblr blog, sarcastically called, Congrats! You Have an All-Male Panel.

All Male

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2019/06/is-it-time-to-ban-manels-all-male-panels-in-the-academy.html

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Comments

Mr. Wood's cluelessness is remarkable. The focus, he says, should be on merit and merit alone. If the result is all-male panels, so be it. The question Mr. Collins is asking, of course, is whether some dynamic other than merit is resulting in all-male panels. That is a question Mr. Wood seems unwilling to ask.

Posted by: Theodore P Seto | Jun 19, 2019 6:50:29 AM

Collins announced that "starting now, when I consider speaking invitations, I will expect a level playing field, where scientists of all backgrounds are evaluated fairly for speaking opportunities...

Evaluated fairly? Tell that to the qualified male who is denied the final panel spot because the other spots were already filled by men.

Ensuring diversity and representation is fairly easy with large numbers. When you have a panel of 4-8 people on a highly specialized subject, you simply may not be able to find a female (or otherwise diverse) candidate for your panel who is both an expert and available and willing to participate.

This nonsense is going to ruin our country. Quality matters - first, second, third and last.

Posted by: Todd | Jun 19, 2019 8:52:12 AM

Ironically, women are under-represented in the researcher ranks at NIH... Why not address that problem?

Posted by: John Saunders | Jun 19, 2019 10:00:39 AM

The cult of diversity takes no prisoners.

Posted by: Deseret Defender | Jun 19, 2019 11:33:51 AM

"So this week Collins announced that "starting now, when I consider speaking invitations, I will expect a level playing field, where scientists of all backgrounds are evaluated fairly for speaking opportunities. "
While I applaud this sentiment, that is not at all what "inclusiveness" and diversity means. Being evaluated fairly means ignoring sex, race, etc. when selecting for anything. Ignore, not use as another weighing metric.

Posted by: ruralcounsel | Jun 20, 2019 4:05:57 AM

Or all-male blogs? 🙂

Posted by: Mike Livingston | Jun 20, 2019 4:11:47 AM