A small hypothesis: when people don’t get to hear about women working in a particular field, they will assume that there are no women working in that field. Men working in that field will then spring more readily to mind, and get invited to speak at conferences, contribute to publications, etc. This in turn means that people will not get to hear about women working in that field, and so it goes on. The lack of visible women then contributes to general perceptions of women as no good at that sort of thing, not interested in that sort of thing, not suitable for that kind of work, and so on. It also means that the field in question will not benefit as much as it could from the experiences, expertise, and knowledge of women, which for various reasons may be different from those of men. Over here, we’re fond of pointing out conferences that have an all, or mostly male line-up, when there are women who could have been invited, and where appropriate, we complain to conference organisers about it. Unsurprisingly, academia is not the only place where this happens. The Business for Millenium Development Summit kicked off in Melbourne today, to discuss how to implement the UN’s eight Millenium Development Goals, which are to: eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat HIV/AIDS and other diseases, ensure environmental sustainability, and develop a global partnership for development. Guess what? All twenty-four speakers on the original programme were men. After forceful words from Jane Sloane – executive director of the International Women’s Development Agency – they did manage to rustle up three women at short notice. But if you ask me, pretty poor effort. Read more here.
Thanks to Notfromaroundhere for sending us the story.