Monday, March 21, 2011

The demographics of evolutionary demographers

A group of us considering organizing a new scientific society have been compiling a list of those we would like to invite to the initial meeting of the society, to be held here in Rostock, probably next year. We are up to 125 people (excluding people who work here, as everyone who works here will be invited). The group making this list is about half male, half female. The list is 100 males and 25 females.

Why this skew? We each listed people whose names came to mind, and in some of the subfields we are drawing from (e.g., mathematical ecology) almost all of the well known people are male. Higher level academics in general still skew strongly male, and the higher the level the stronger the skew, in most cases. This is both a cohort effect (older cohorts of scientists are both more well known and more male) and a selection effect (males find it easier to advance up the ladder). Being demographers, we are very much aware of this, and are very much interested in having a diverse society, but it is not clear what we can do about it. There is also a preponderance of Europeans, North Americans and East Asians; again this is unintentional and difficult to reasonably address.

Despite these skews, it is a wonderful list of researchers, and I hope we can get most of them to attend.

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