Scientists from underrepresented minority groups are already few and far between in many science fields. But a new study shows that they are invited or assigned to give talks at lower rates than their white or Asian American colleagues, a commentary published in the journal Nature shows (2019, DOI: 10.1038/d41586-019-03688-w). Underrepresented minority women were the least likely to get speaking slots.
The study looked at US-based speakers and poster presenters at American Geophysical Union (AGU) fall meetings from 2014–17. Almost 39,000 speakers reported their ethnicity and race. Of those, 7.7% were African American, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, or Pacific Islander.
For AGU meetings, people who would like to present their work submit abstracts for topical sessions. Session organizers can invite talks or select speakers from among submitted abstracts. Underrepresented minority scientists overall were less likely to get invited to give talks. They were also less likely to be assigned to give a talk, relative to the number of abstracts they submitted. Minority women were at a particular disadvantage. That comes despite the fact that underrepresented minority scientists were proportionally more likely to submit abstracts.
The authors “urge more organizations to measure and share the outcomes for scholars from minority groups. With this information and the growing literature on effective interventions, together we can create a more equitable scientific community.”