#YAMMM Alert: NGS Data Analysis & Informatics (Yet Another Mostly Male Meeting)

Just got this email:

Dear Jonathan, 

I hope this email finds you well. I came across your profile while doing some research on the NGS Data Analysis field and I would like to invite you and your team to the “NGS Data Analysis and Informatics Conference, 2016” which will be held on the 18th and 19th of February in San Diego, USA which I hope would be of your interest. I am glad to inform one of the conference sponsors (Illumina, Seven Bridges Genomics, and Molecular Health) has helped arrange a complimentary VIP pass for you. We have limited passes which are being offered for you and some other experts in US. 

We are holding these sponsored pass until the end of this week or till these passes are taken, whichever is the earliest. Request you to kindly confirm your participation at the earliest by replying to this email. Attached is the VIP pass.
Our conference link- http://www.mnmconferences.com/ngs-data-analysis-informatics-congress-usa.html 

I would be grateful if you can share the information with your colleagues if you are not the right person to contact. Let me know if you need any further information. 

Kind Regards, Mahvish Anwar Delegate Executive- Markets and Markets Conferences

So, I checked out the meeting and the gender ratio of speakers.  Not good:

4 and 16 were counted at NGS Data Analysis #NGS. Learn more at GenderAvenger Tally!function(d,s,id){var e,f=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?’http’:’http’;if(!d.getElementById(id)){e=d.createElement(s);e.id=id; e.src=p + “://app.genderavenger.com/js/lib/embed.js”;f.parentNode.insertBefore(e,f);}}(document,”script”,”genderavenger-embed”);

No thanks, not interested in attending, even for free, a YAMMM (Yet Another Mostly Male Meeting).

Next-Gen Immunology: Yet Another Mostly Male Meeting #YAMMM (hosted by @WeizmannScience sponsored by EMBO)

Just got pointed to this meeting:

NEXT GEN IMMUNOLOGY meeting Feb 14-16 hosted by the Weizmann Institute of Science

Here are the speakers.  People I identified as male in Yellow and female in Green

  1. Shizuo Akira, IFREC
  2. Jakub Abramson, WIS
  3. David Artis, Cornell
  4. David Baltimore, Cal Tech
  5. Yasmine Belkaid, NIH
  6. Yinon Ben-Neriah, HUJI
  7. Bruce Beutler, U Texas Southwestern
  8. Michael Fischbach, UCSF
  9. Richard Flavell, Yale
  10. Lora Hooper, U Texas Southwestern
  11. Steffen Jung, WIS
  12. Dennis Kasper, Harvard
  13. Rob Knight, UCSD
  14. Vijay K. Kuchroo, Harvard
  15. Dan Littman, NYU
  16. Andrew Macpherson, Bern
  17. Sarkis Mazmanian, Cal Tech
  18. Yifat Merbl, WIS
  19. Karen Nelson, JCVI
  20. Luke O’Neill, Trinity College
  21. Stuart Orkin, Harvard
  22. Hidde Ploegh, MIT
  23. Fiona Powrie, Oxford
  24. Klaus Rajewsky, MDC
  25. Hans-Reimer Rodewald, DKFZ
  26. Timm Schroeder, ETH/Basel
  27. Ton Schumacher, NKI
  28. Eran Segal, WIS
  29. Julie Segre, NIH
  30. Michal Schwartz, WIS
  31. Rotem Sorek, WIS
  32. Henk stunnenberg, Radboud
  33. Amos Tanay, WIS
  34. Andreas Trumpp, DKFZ
  35. Irving Weissman, Stanford
  36. Ramnik Xavier, Broad
  37. Feng Zhang, MIT

37 Speakers, 6 7 Female

M:F% 84:16, 81: 19
16% 19% Female

6 and 31 were counted at #NextGenImm. Learn more at GenderAvenger Tally!function(d,s,id){var e,f=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?’http’:’http’;if(!d.getElementById(id)){e=d.createElement(s);e.id=id; e.src=p + “://app.genderavenger.com/js/lib/embed.js”;f.parentNode.insertBefore(e,f);}}(document,”script”,”genderavenger-embed”);

BigDat 2016 where men (and only men) will teach you about big data #YAOMM

Just got an email invitation to the following
BigDat 2016
Bilbao, Spain
February 812, 2016
Organized by:
DeustoTech, University of Deusto
Rovira i VirgiliUniversity
I confess, I was intrigued enough to look because it was in Bilbao, and, well, my kids are completely obsessed with soccer and we are thinking of a trip to Barcelona, so why not a trip to Bilbao too.  And then, well, I got sick to my stomach.  I looked at the list of speakers and instructors and did a bunch of Googling to make inferences about their gender.  And, well, everyone associated with the School appears to be male.  That is 24 or 24 slots (4 keynote speaker slots and 20 professor slots.  See below for the rundown.  People I identified as male are highlighted in yellow. Sad and disappointing.  Needless to say I will not be going.

Keynote Speakers

  1. Nektarios Benekos (European Organization for Nuclear Research)
  2. Chih-Jen Lin (National Taiwan University)
  3. Jeffrey Ullman (Stanford University)
  4. Alexandre Vaniachine (Argonne National Laboratory)
Professors and Courses

  1. Nektarios Benekos (European Organization for Nuclear Research)
  2. Hendrik Blockeel (KU Leuven)
  3. Edward Y. Chang (HTC Health, Taipei)
  4. Nello Cristianini (University of Bristol)
  5. Ernesto Damiani (University of Milan)
  6. Francisco Herrera (University of Granada),
  7. Chih-Jen Lin (National Taiwan University),
  8. George Karypis (University of Minnesota)
  9. Geoff McLachlan (University of Queensland)
  10. Wladek Minor (University of Virginia),
  11. Raymond Ng (University of British Columbia)
  12. Sankar K. Pal (Indian Statistical Institute)
  13. Erhard Rahm (University of Leipzig)
  14. Hanan Samet (University of Maryland)
  15. Jaideep Srivastava (Qatar ComputingResearch Institute)
  16. Jeffrey Ullman (Stanford University)
  17. Alexandre Vaniachine (Argonne National Laboratory)
  18. Xiaowei Xu (University of Arkansas, Little Rock)
  19. Fuli Yu (Baylor College of Medicine)
  20. Mohammed J. Zaki (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)

Genome Engineering #GESB16 in Gent – for Men Only #YAMMM

So I just got an invite to this meeting:

Looks interesting.  Not that I work in the field.  But I decided to check it out.

So I went to the website.


Here are screenshots of the “Top Speakers”

32 speakers.  30 of which are men. *

That comes to 6% female, 94% male.  Not a good thing.  Shame on VIB Conferences and shame on the sponsors

I plan to send complaints to these sponsors to let them know I do not believe they should be sponsoring a meeting with such a clear gender bias.  
I also am going to register the meeting at Gender Avenger.

* I realize it is not always possible ot identify people’s gender from names and appearances.  I looked up.  I looked at all the more detailed descriptions of the speakers to see how they were described (as in, what pronouns were used).

UPDATE 11-28-2015

The Association of Computational Learning Only Invites Men to Speak at their Annual Meetings 2004-2015.

I have been pointed to a meeting series by a colleague.  The meeting is the “Conference on Learning Theory” brought to use by the The Association of Computational Learning.

Since 2004 they have had 31 Invited Speakers at their annual meeting.  30 of which have been men.  That comes to 97% men.  3% women.  Worst I have ever seen I think.

UPDATE 2:45 PM.  Note – I am not trying to target the speakers here.  They were not the ones who planned these meetings.  They were just the invited speakers who, over the years, happened to be almost all men.  It is the organizers of the meeting who need to be questioned about this …  Some of these speakers may very well be dead against having a series with so few female speakers.

The list of Sponsors for their most recent meeting includes Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Yahoo.  Time to pressure those companies and the other sponsors to drop sponsorship for this organization and their meeting.

UPDATE #2 4:00 PM.  I have been told that there are active efforts underway by some members of the community to fix the underrepresentation of women as invited speakers in this meeting series. Stay tuned.  
Here is the breakdown of speakers over the years.

Invited Speakers for 2015

Invited Speakers 2014

  • Michael Jordan 
  • Yishay Mansour Yishay Mansour

Invited Speakers 2013

  • Ralf Herbrich 
  • Sanjeev Arora 
  • Yann LeCun 

Invited Speakers 2012

  • Andrew Ng
  • Arkadi Nemirovski
  • Dimitris Achlioptas
Invited Speakers 2011

  • William T. Freeman Freeman
  • David  J. Hand Hand

Invited Speakers 2010

  • Noga Alon
  • Naom Nisan

Invited Speakers 2009

  • Piotr Indyk my picture
  • Adam Tauman Kalai, Adam Kalai

Invited Speakers 2008

  • Peter GrünwaldPhoto
  • Robin Hanson Photo
  • Dan Klein Photo
  • Gabor Lugosi Photo

  • Dana Ron 
  • Santosh Vempala 

Invited SPeakers 2006

  • Luc Devroye 
  • Gyorgy TuránPhoto of Gyorgy Turan
  • Vladimir VovkVovk's photo

Invited Speakers 2005

  • Sergiu Hart 
  • Satinder Singh

Invited Speakers 2004

  • Michael Kearns[PHOTO]
  • Stephen BoydStephen Boyd photo
  • Moses Charikar

Yet another mostly male meeting (YAMMM) from Cold Spring Harbor

I guess this would go down in “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up” or something like that. A few weeks ago, I posted an anonymous guest post about the lack of female speakers at the Programming for Biology workshop at Cold Spring Harbor Labs: Guest post on Yet Another Mostly Male Meeting (YAMMM) – Programming for Biology.  This got a response from Cold Spring Harbor on Twitter claiming they do work to have diverse speakers at their meetings.

Then I got an email last week inviting me to Cold Spring Harbor meeting on the History of DNA Sequencing with a truly awful gender ratio.  So I wrote a blog post about that: Cold Spring Harbor presents the men’s only view on the evolution of sequencing.  And also started a discussion about this on Twitter.

And in response to some comments from some of the CSHL Meeting people I decided to look into the past meetings in the same history of science series and was saddened with the incredibly low # of female speakers at all the meetings in this series. So I posted about that …

And had more discussions on Twitter where CSHL made some claims about these History of Science meetings being a special case (not buying their argument, just reporting what they said).

And I thought I could have a relaxing Fourth of July weekend not spending my time dealing with Cold Spring Harbor Meetings.  And then, well, I got an email from CSHL that I just looked at a few minutes ago.  This email invited me to one of their “CSHL Asia Conferences”.

I clicked on the link and when to the meeting site: Biological Rhythms and sadly I got sucked into YAMMM (yet another mostly male meeting) land.  Here are the details on the organizers and presenters as far as I could sort out.  I have labelled people I infer to be likely male in yellow and likely female in green.  (I note I accept that a binary male vs. female representation of gender is less than ideal but I think in general this is a useful thing to look and to make some hypotheses for to assess meetings).


  1. Carla Green, UT Southwestern, USA
  2. Michael Hastings, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, UK
  3. Joseph Takahashi, HHMI/UT Southwestern, USA
  4. Hiroki Ueda, University of Tokyo/RIKEN, Japan
  5. Han Wang, Soochow University, China


  1. Joseph Takahashi, HHMI/UT Southwestern Medical Center, USA 
  2. Ravi Allada, Northwestern University, USA 
  3. Joseph Bass, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, USA 
  4. Deborah Bell-Pedersen, Texas A&M University, USA 
  5. Nicolas Cermakian, Douglas Mental Health University Institute, CANADA 
  6. Xinnian Dong, Duke University, USA 
  7. Yoshitaka Fukada, University of Tokyo, JAPAN 
  8. Carla Green, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, USA 
  9. Jinhu Guo, Sun Yat-Sen University, China 
  10. Fang Han, Peking University People’s Hospital of Beijing, CHINA 
  11. Qun He, China Agricultural University, China 
  12. John Hogenesch, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, USA 
  13. Zhili Huang, Fudan University, China 
  14. Takao Kondo, Nagoya University/Div. of Biological Science, JAPAN 
  15. Katja Lamia, The Scripps Research Institute, USA 
  16. Cheng Chi Lee, University of Texas Health Science Center Houston, USA 
  17. Yi Liu, UT Southwestern Medical Center, USA 
  18. Chang Liu, Nanjing Normal University, China 
  19. Hugh Piggins, University of Manchester, UNITED KINGDOM 
  20. Till Roenneberg, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, GERMANY 
  21. Louis Ptacek, HHMI/University of California San Francisco, USA 
  22. Hiroki Ueda, RIKEN Kobe Institute, JAPAN 
  23. David Virshup, Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, SINGAPORE 
  24. Han Wang, Soochow University, China 
  25. Charles Weitz, Harvard Medical School, USA 
  26. David Whitmore, University College London, UNITED KINGDOM 
  27. Ying Xu, Soochow University, China 
  28. Xiaodong Xu, Hubei Normal University, China 
  29. Erquan Zhang, National Institute of Biological Sciences, China 
  30. Zhangwu Zhao, China Agricultural University, China
So that is 30 speakers.  Only 29 of which could I find information on the web to make a hypothesis of gender.  Of those 29, I inferred 6 – or 20% to be female.  That is just really low for biological sciences.  I am sorry Cold Spring Harbor but you are just not doing a good enough job with diversity.  Scratch that, you are doing a bad job.  Sad to see.  

Cold Spring Harbor presents the men’s only view on the evolution of sequencing

On June 5 I posted a guest blog post by an anonymous person writing about the Programming for Biology workshop at Cold Spring Harbor Labs: Guest post on Yet Another Mostly Male Meeting (YAMMM) – Programming for Biology 

And this post generated some responses including yesterday a series of responses from whomever is behind the Cold Spring Harbor Meetings Twitter account.






Sounds great.  And I retweeted all of these.

And then I got an email invite to a new Cold Spring Harbor Meeting: The Evolution of Sequencing Technology: A Half Century of Progress

With a long long list of speakers.  Alas, the gender ratio here of speakers is abyssmal.  I have highlighted men in yellow and women in green (with the caveat that I always try to giver that assigning gender from names or appearance or records is not always accurate)

  1. Mark Adams, J. Craig Venter Institute
  2. Gillian Air, University of Oklahoma
  3. Shankar Balasubramanian, University of Cambridge, UK
  4. Hagan Bayley, Oxford Nanopore Technologies, Ltd.
  5. David Bentley, Illumina Cambridge, Ltd
  6. Sydney Brenner, Salk Institute for Biological Studies
  7. Nigel Brown, University of Edinburgh, UK
  8. George Brownlee, University of Oxford, UK 
  9. Graham Cameron, Bioinformatics Resource, Australia EMBL
  10. Piero Carninci, RIKEN Ctr.for Life Science Technologies, Japan
  11. Norman Dovichi, University of Notre Dame
  12. J. William Efcavitch, Molecular Assemblies, Inc.
  13. Miguel Garcia-Sancho, University of Edinburgh, UK
  14. Mark Gerstein, Yale University 
  15. Jack Gilbert, University of Chicago
  16. Walter Gilbert, Harvard University
  17. Philip Green, University of Washington
  18. Leroy Hood, Institute for Systems Biology
  19. Clyde Hutchison, J. Craig Venter Institute
  20. James Kent, University of California, Santa Cruz
  21. Jonas Korlach, Pacific Biosciences
  22. Victor Ling, BC Cancer Agency, Canada
  23. David Lipman, NCBI/NLM National Instiutes of Health 
  24. James Lupski, Baylor College of Medicine
  25. Thomas Maniatis, Columbia University Medical Center
  26. W. Richard McCombie, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
  27. Joachim Messing, Waksman Institute, Rutgers University
  28. Gene Myers, Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology & Genetics, Germany
  29. Richard Myers, HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology
  30. Debbie Nickerson, University of Washington
  31. James Ostell, NLM/NCBI
  32. Stephen Quake, Stanford University/HHMI
  33. Charles Richardson, Harvard Medical School
  34. Richard Roberts, New England BioLabs
  35. Jane Rogers, The Genome Analysis Centre, UK
  36. Mostafa Ronaghi, Illumina, Inc.
  37. Yoshiyuki Sakaki, University of Tokyo
  38. Jay Shendure, University of Washington
  39. Melvin Simon, Caltech
  40. Hamilton Smith, J. Craig Venter Institute
  41. Lloyd Smith, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  42. J. Craig Venter, J. Craig Venter Institute
  43. Robert Waterston, University of Washington
  44. James Watson, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory 
  45. Jean Weissenbach, Genoscope, France
  46. Barbara Wold, Caltech
  47. Huanming Yang, Beijing Genomics Institute, China
That is right.  47 speakers.  4 of which are female.  For a whopping 7.8 % female speakers.  This is one of the most extreme skews I have seen for any meeting.  This truly makes me sick to my stomach.   Since there are plenty of women who have had and still have fundamentally important roles in the field of sequencing and sequencing technology I infer that this most likely reflects some type of bias in the meeting organization and planning process.

The meeting page lists the organizers as

  • Mark Adams, J. Craig Venter Institute       
  • Nigel Brown, University of Edinburgh, UK
  • Mila Pollock, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory     
  • Robert Waterston, University of Washington
And one of the major sponsors as Illumina.
I think they all have some explaining to do.
One last note – the meeting description says “The opening session will include a tribute to Frederick Sanger, the father of DNA sequencing, and will cover the early efforts in protein, RNA and DNA sequencing.”  Really?  The father of DNA sequencing?  Seems perfect for this meeting I guess.

UPDATE 6/29/15 7 PM PST

Apparently this meeting is part of a series on the history of molecular biology.  The meeting page says

The CSHL/Genentech Center Conferences on the History of Molecular Biology & Biotechnology (http://library.cshl.edu/hosted-meetings) aim to explore important themes of discovery in the biological sciences, bringing together scientists who made many of the seminal discoveries that began the field with others whose interests may include the current status of the field, the historical progress of the field, and/or the application of these techniques and approaches in biotechnology and medicine. Previous meetings in the series have included:  

Biotechnology: Past, Present & Future (2008)
History of Restriction Enzymes (2013)
Messenger RNA: From Discovery to Synthesis and Regulation in Bacteria and Eukaryotes (2014)
Plasmids: History & Biology (2014)

So I decided to take a peek at these meetings I started with Biotechnology: Past, Present & Future (2008).


  1. Mila Pollock 
  2. Jan Witkowski


  1. Sydney Brenner
  2. Peter Feinstein
  3. Lee Hood
  4. Tom Maniatis
  5. Richard Roberts 

Speakers are listed below:

  1. Garen Bohlin
  2. Robert Bud 
  3. Don Comb 
  4. Peter Feinstein
  5. Maryann Feldman 
  6. Herbert Heyneker 
  7. John H. Leamon
  8. Yuk-Lam Lo 
  9. Alan McHughen 
  10. Stelios Papadopoulos 
  11. Rich Roberts
  12. Robert Steinbrook
  13. Kenneth Thibodeau 
  14. Marc Van Montagu
  15. Charles Weissmann 
  16. Julie Xing
For speakers that comes to 14:2 male:female or 12.5 % female

Next I went to History of Restriction Enzymes (2013).


  1. Herb Boyer, University of California, San Francisco
  2. Stu Linn, University of California, Berkeley
  3. Mila Pollock, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
  4. Richard Roberts, New England BioLabs

Speakers are listed below:

  1. Aneel Aggarwal, Mount Sinai School of Medicine
  2. Werner Arber, University of Basel, Switzerland
  3. Tom Bickle, University of Basel, Switzerland
  4. Herb Boyer, University of California, San Francisco
  5. Jack Chirikjian, Georgetown University
  6. Steve Halford, Bristol University, United Kingdom
  7. Ken Horiuchi, The Rockefeller University
  8. Clyde Hutchison, J. Craig Venter Institute
  9. Arvydas Janulaitis, Institute of Biotechnology, Lithuania
  10. Stu Linn, University of Califoria, Berkeley
  11. Bill Linton, Promega
  12. Arvydas Lubys, Institute of Biotechnology, Lithuania
  13. Matthew Meselson, Harvard University
  14. Rick Morgan, New England BioLabs
  15. Andrzej Piekarowicz, Warsaw University, Poland
  16. Alfred Pingoud, Institute of Biochemistry – Giessen, Germany
  17. Mila Pollock, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
  18. Rich Roberts, New England BioLabs
  19. John Rosenberg, University of Pittsburgh
  20. Ham Smith, J. Craig Venter Institute
  21. Bruno Strasser, Yale University & University of Geneva
  22. Geoff Wilson, New England BioLabs
OK that is 21:1 or 4.5 % women. Well, I guess this makes the meeting on sequencing look good.

  1. James Darnell, The Rockefeller University
  2. Adrian Krainer, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
  3. Mila Pollock, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory


  1. Arnold Berk, University of California, Los Angeles
  2. Douglas Black, HHMI, University of California, Los Angeles
  3. George Brawerman, Tufts University School of Medicine
  4. Sydney Brenner, Janelia Farm Research Campus, HHMI
  5. Stephen Buratowski, Harvard Medical School
  6. Louise Chow, University of Alabama
  7. Juan Pablo Couso, University of Sussex, UK
  8. James Darnell, The Rockefeller University
  9. Gideon Dreyfuss, HHMI, University of Pennsylvania
  10. Grigorii Georgiev, Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia
  11. Adrian Krainer, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
  12. Tom Maniatis, Columbia University Medical Center
  13. James Manley, Columbia University
  14. Lynne Maquat, University of Rochester Medical Center
  15. Matthew Meselson, Harvard University
  16. Melissa Moore, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  17. Bernard Moss, National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases
  18. Arthur Pardee, Dana Farber Cancer Institute
  19. Mila Pollock, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
  20. Rich Roberts, New England BioLabs
  21. Robert Roeder, The Rockefeller University
  22. Mike Rosbash, Brandeis University
  23. Robert Schleif, John Hopkins University
  24. Robert Singer, Albert Einstein College of Medicine
  25. Nahum Sonenberg, McGill University, Montré, Quéc, Canada
  26. Joan Steitz, Yale University/ HHMI
  27. David Tollervey, Wellcome Center for Cell Biology; University of Edinburgh, UK
  28. Jonathan Warner, Albert Einstein College of Medicine
  29. James Watson, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

So so much better no? 24:5 Male: Female or 17% female (for the speakers).

Finally I checked out Plasmids: History & Biology (2014)


  1. Dhruba Chattoraj, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD
  2. Stanley N. Cohen, Stanford University
  3. Stanley Falkow, Stanford University
  4. Richard Novick, New York University
  5. Chris Thomas, University of Birmingham, UK
  6. Jan Witkowski, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, NY


  1. Peter Barth, Helsby, Cheshire UK
  2. Susana Brom, Universidad Nacional Autonóma de México, Cuernavaca, Morelos Mexico
  3. Ananda Chakrabarty, University of Illinois
  4. Mike Chandler, Université Sabatier, Toulouse, France
  5. Dhruba Chattoraj, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD
  6. Don Clewell, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
  7. Stanley N. Cohen, Stanford University
  8. Fernando de la Cruz, Universidad de Cantabria, Spain
  9. R. Curtiss III, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
  10. Julian Davies, University of British Columbia, Canada
  11. Stanley Falkow, Stanford University
  12. Laura Frost, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  13. Barbara Funnell, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  14. Mathias Grote, Technische Universität Berlin, Germany
  15. George A. Jacoby, Lahey Clinic, Burlington, MA
  16. Mark Jones, Life Sciences Foundation, San Francisco, CA
  17. Saleem Khan, University of Pittsburgh
  18. Bruce Levin, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
  19. John Mekalanos, Harvard Medical School
  20. Marc van Montagu, Ghent University, Belgium
  21. Richard Novick, New York University
  22. David Sherratt, University of Oxford, UK
  23. David Summers, University of Cambridge, UK
  24. Chris Thomas, University of Birmingham, UK
  25. Eva Top, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID
  26. Gerhart Wagner, Uppsala University, Sweden
  27. Michael Yarmolinsky, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda MD
  28. Peter Young, University of York, UK

That comes to 24:4 for speakers or 14% female.

Notice any patterns?  The totals for these meetings come to 17 women out of 142 speakers.  Or ~12 %.  That is a dismal record for Cold Spring Harbor Labs and certainly does not convince me that they are trying at all to have diversity represented at their meetings.  I note – I truly love many things about CSHL.  This is definitely not one of them.

UPDATE 2 – Some discussion of this post on Twitter










//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js UPDATE 3: Made a Storify w/ some of the discussions

Guest post on Yet Another Mostly Male Meeting (YAMMM) – Programming for Biology

I have posted on Twitter and other places saying that I would be willing to share here anonymous postings about meetings with skewed gender ratios.  I generally am not overly fond on anonymity on the web but realize it has some very important and powerful uses, including protecting people from retribution.  So in the case of meetings with skewed gender ratios, I know from personal experience that posting about them can lead to serious vitriol, threats, and possible repercussions.  I feel confident enough in my status and position to mostly ignore these responses but I know that not everyone is so blessed.

So – here is one such anonymous post I received.

Last year I was looking around for good workshops to learn programming for biology
(http://programmingforbiology.org/index.html) and
about genome assembly and annotation. I came across the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
course called “Programming for Biology” and applied as they have a good reputation.
I was happy to get in and overall really enjoyed the course. I learnt how to program in
Perl (not Python what I regret a bit), a lot of background on downstream genome analysis
and had a mostly pleasant time. An interesting slogan of the meeting was
“It’s not only what you learn here, but also who you meet that makes this workshop so special”
(I am paraphrasing here a bit). Great! But wait are all big players in the field of bioinformatics

Out of the 10 Guest Lectures ALL were male.

  • Scott Cain             Ontario Institute for Cancer Research
  • Brian Haas            Broad Institute
  • Winston Hide        Harvard School of Public Health, South African National Bioinformatics Institute
  • Tomas Marques     Universitat Pompeu Fabra
  • Barry Moore          University of Utah
  • William Pearson    University of Virginia
  • James Robinson     Broad Institute
  • Michael Schatz      CSHL
  • Jason Stajich          University of California, Riverside
  • Paul Thomas          University of Southern California

Only 2 out of the 7 instructors and tutors were female

  • Simon Prochnik DOE – Joint Genome Institute, Walnut Creek, CA
  • Sofia Robb         University of California, Riverside
  • Steven Ahrendt University of California, Riverside
  • Dave Messina Cofactor Genomics
  • Shawn Rynearson University of Utah
  • Deborah Triant University of Virginia
  • Ken Youens-Clark University of Arizona

This means only 2 out of 17 teachers were actual women. This together with the fact that
the meeting was also sold as ‘who you meet here is important’ was the most disappointing
fact. There are so many talented and great female bioinformatics out there it would be
great to see at least some of them present at this workshop in 2015.

P.S.: Don’t get me wrong Simon and Sofia are great and organize a lovely meeting. So this
goes under the category ‘even when it hurts’.

Cell Symposia have a problem with gender balance of speakers

With apologies I don’t have time right now to tease apart all the details on these meetings. But, yuck. Cell Symposia have a big and persistent problem with gender balance of speakers. See the Storify below:

Four simple tools to promote gender balance at conferences – guest post from Julie Pfeiffer @jkpfeiff

Guest post from Julie Pfeiffer.

Julie Pfeiffer
Associate Professor of Microbiology
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

Four simple tools to promote gender balance at conferences 

1. Know that you are biased. Identify your biases.

We all have biases and many of them are unconscious. You can discover your own biases using online social attitude tests developed by Project Implicit, a non-profit organization affiliated with Harvard University. The Gender-Science Implicit Association Test is particularly relevant here. It turns out that I have moderate bias linking science with males, as well as other biases. Knowing this fact has been extremely important. It is very difficult to alter unconscious bias, but it is easy to understand that you are biased and edit your actions accordingly. For example, if I need to make a list of potential speakers or authors quickly, the list will be of senior men from the United States. The key is to spend time EDITING the list to ensure diversity.

2. Keep track of numbers.

Most individuals in leadership positions are not seeking to exclude women or other groups from plenary talks, career opportunities, etc. Instead, they simply forget to count. They forget to keep track of gender ratio and other types of diversity. They forget to edit. When leaders/organizers have diversity in mind, diversity is relatively easy to achieve. Two examples illustrate this point:

1) Vincent Racaniello is President of the American Society for Virology and his goal was to put together an outstanding and diverse group of plenary speakers for the annual meeting in 2015. He asked for speaker suggestions via emails and Twitter (https://twitter.com/profvrr). He made a list and he edited it. The result? The best representation of female scientists at a conference I have ever seen— 50% of the plenary speakers at ASV this year are female.

2) The Associate Editors at the Journal of Virology choose topics and authors for short reviews called “Gems”. The goal was to have high diversity in several areas including author gender, author career stage, author location, and topic. To keep ourselves on track to achieve this goal, we included several extra columns in our author/topic spreadsheet: Female? Non-USA location? Junior PI? This simple reminder in the spreadsheet has helped us select relatively diverse authors and topics: ~30% are female, ~30% are Assistant Professors, and ~20% are at institutions outside the United States.

3. Create lists and ask people for suggestions. 

Trying to come up with names of female scientists de novo can be a challenge. A few months ago, Carolyn Coyne, Erica Ollmann-Saphire, and Clodagh O’Shea made a list of as many female virologists as they could. Over wine, they devised a list of 70 names. We have circulated this list to many of our colleagues and tweeted a request to send missing names. The list is now at 349 and is publicly available (please tweet missing names to https://twitter.com/jkpfeiff). It is much easier to think of diverse options for speakers and authors by using a pre-existing list. Virologists with this list can no longer claim that they “couldn’t think of a female speaker”. Each field could benefit from a list like this, which could also include other underrepresented groups. Several of these lists exist, as has been highlighted on this and other blogs.

4. Speak up and enlist the help of supportive senior faculty.

Expressing concern to conference organizers about low speaker diversity can go a long way. While it may be difficult to change the speaker list close to the conference date, mentioning the lack of diversity could change the future landscape of the conference. I have an example from my own experience: I created an international shitstorm that had a great outcome. In year three of my faculty position I was considering whether to attend a major conference, so I checked the speaker list to help make my decision. Zero of 18 plenary speakers were female. I decided not to attend. Instead, I emailed the conference organizer to express my disappointment with the complete lack of female plenary speakers. His response, over several emails, was less than supportive:

“…. Finally, the gender, race, religion has never been, to my opinion, valuable ways to select presenters of scientific works. The selection of the Plenary Lectures has been made by the Organizing Committee, that comprises a woman, based on the topic, then the best possible speaker on the topic…. I am aware of the current debate in our societies about “minimum numbers”. I do not think they would help the cause of women in science.”

While this organizer was not supportive or responsive to my speaker suggestions, five senior (famous) faculty members in the field were hyper-supportive. Upon hearing this story, they each contacted the organizer and expressed their concern about the lack of diversity. It was too late to change the program for the conference that year. However, in every subsequent year, the plenary speakers at this conference have included women and other underrepresented groups. So, it’s possible that a simple email from a young scientist can make a difference, particularly with the help of senior faculty.