Prestigious medical journal The Lancet announces the end of all-male scientific panels to promote the representation of women
- Editors are refusing to appear on panels if no women have been invited
- They are urging other publishers to avoid ‘manels’ – expert panels with just men
- The Lancet, founded 1823, has been researching into inequalities in the industry
The prestigious medical publisher The Lancet Group has pledged to ban its editors from appearing on all-male scientific panels.
In hope of promoting the representation of women in science, all 18 of the group’s publications will adhere to the new guidelines.
Editors of any of the London-based publisher’s journals will not be allowed to sit on ‘manels’ – expert panels made up entirely of men.
And The Lancet announced that at events it organises itself or sponsors, it will aim to ensure at least half of the panelists are women.
The publisher urged others in the industry to follow suit.
It comes amid growing pressure among the scientific community to celebrate the success of women among a heavily male dominated environment.
The prestigious medical publisher The Lancet Group has pledged to ban its editors from appearing on all-male scientific panels. Pictured, editor-in-chief of The Lancet, Dr Richard Horton
The Lancet’s journal of the same name is among the world’s oldest, having a global impact second only to The New England Journal of Medicine.
Its monthly release covers topics such as diabetes, HIV, infectious diseases and neurology, often featuring world-leading research.
Thomas Wakley founded The Lancet in 1823, and it has been edited only by male editors since its beginning.
WHAT WAS THE #LANCETWOMEN ISSUE?
The Lacent’s February 2019 issue focused on advancing women in all areas of science, medicine, and global health.
It contained international evidence on forms of gender bias by collecting data from more than 300 papers sent by 40 countries.
When calling for academics to submit evidence, in December 2017, Dr Jocalyn Clark, executive editor at The Lancet, said: ‘The reasons for shining light on women and inequalities are clear.
‘Women earn less for the same types of work and are vastly under-represented in senior-level positions across occupational sectors.1 In science and medicine, the glass ceiling is still intact.’
For example, women undergraduates outnumber men but 72 per cent of the global scientific workforce is male, according to a 2015 UNESCO report.
In Europe, only 36 per cent of mid-ranking professors and 18 per cent of full professors were women in 2013.
In health, where women make up most of the global workforce, they hold a small fraction of leadership positions.
In the UK, female doctors earn 40 per cent less than their male counterparts.
In the US, 30 per cent of women clinical researchers report experiencing sexual assault versus 4 per cent of men.
The situation is worse if taking into account the representation of women across different ethnicities, classes, and sexualities, Dr Clark said.
Poor career progression and low representation of senior women are due to a number of reasons.
They include ‘penalties for motherhood, lack of recognition, lack of support for leadership bids, fewer promotions and resources, and exclusion of women from the “old boys’ club”’, Dr Clark wrote.
The February #LancetWomen issue provided more robust evidence to make an action plan, seen in the development of the No All-Male Panel Policy, for example.
The journal’s current editor-in-chief, Dr Richard Horton, said: ‘We are committed to be the change we want to see.’
He added: ‘We are just one part of an ecosystem that includes academic institutions and funders where gender bias is well-documented.’
A statement said: ‘The Lancet Group is committed to increasing diversity and inclusion in research and publishing.’
As well as women, it wants to increase the representation of women and peers from low-income and middle-income countries.
Dr Horton said he wants to help ‘create an even playing field’ and encouraged other publishers and journals to ‘contribute to these pledges’.
The Lancet published a special themed issue, #LancetWomen, to advance women in science six months ago.
Editors addressed the sheer under-representation of women in high positions at medical journals globally.
Research shows that less than a third of authors and reviewers in high-impact medical journals are women, for example.
As part of the Lancet’s own commitment, all 18 journals committed to refreshing their editorial advisory boards to include at least 50 per cent female members.
The target has already been met by eight of the journals, and the others will do so by the end of 2019, a comment said.
Overall, 10 of 18 Editors-in-Chief at the Lancet Group are women.
Dr Jocalyn Clark, executive editor at The Lancet, said: ‘That our announcements come six months to the day of #LancetWomen – our theme issue calling for structural change to achieve gender equity – shows that we are making progress on our own commitments to increase the representation of women in our work.
‘They also show we are holding ourselves accountable. We hope that others, including medical journals, will join us in making these public pledges.’
The hashtag #allmalepanels has seen a surge of support from women in the science, medical and global health industries, particularly in the past year.
And the #LancetWomen issue was the result of an ‘overwhelming’ contribution of work on gender bias from researchers in more than 40 countries.
All journals are also supporting The Diversity Pledge.
The Diversity Pledge aims to improve the representation of people of different ethnicities and social backgrounds.