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Leaky pipeline, gender bias, self-selection or all three? A quantitative analysis of gender balance at an international palliative care research conference

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146-148
Number of pages3
JournalBMJ Supportive and Palliative Care
Volume9
Issue number2
Early online date7 Mar 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019

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Abstract

OBJECTIVES: The 'leaky pipeline' in academia is a clearly described phenomenon, but has not been examined in palliative care. We analysed the gender balance of speakers at the 9th World Research Congress of the European Association of Palliative Care (EAPC) to test the null hypothesis that there is no difference in the proportion of women and men with senior academic visibility in palliative care conference programmes.

METHODS: The final programme of the 2016 EAPC World Congress was examined, and the gender of each speaker was recorded. Presentations were assessed using a three-tier hierarchy of senior academic visibility: Free Communication sessions, Themed sessions and invited Plenaries (low to high). As there was only one Invited Plenary at EAPC 2016, we examined the gender balance at EAPC Plenaries from 2012 to 2016.

RESULTS: Overall, the majority of speakers at EAPC 2016 (96/130, 73.8%) were women. The proportion of women was highest in the Free Communication sessions (84/107, 78.5%). In the Themed sessions, women made up just over half of speakers (12/22, 54.5%). In 2016, there was 1 invited Plenary speaker, a man. From 2012 to 2016, just 6 of 23 invited Plenary speakers at EAPC conferences have been women (26.1%) (χ(2)=25.4, p<0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: These data reject our null hypothesis and suggest that there is attrition of women along the academic pipeline in palliative care. Other factors such as self-selection (that women decline invitations to give talks) and unconscious gender bias need further exploration, as well as actions to address the imbalance.

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