Gender imbalance exists among speakers at recent dental conferences, report finds

New findings confirm that gender imbalance exists in speakers invited to present at dental conferencesNew findings confirm that gender imbalance exists in speakers invited to present at dental conferences.

In a fresh report into gender bias in dentistry, researchers concluded that conference organisers should strive ‘proactively and prospectively’ towards more representative programmes.

Published in the BDJ at the end of last month, the authors set out to describe the gender balance of invited speakers. They looked at UK conferences revolving around general dentistry as well as dental specialties.

Analysing conferences over a two-year period, they looked at the gender, presentation length and presentation role of the speakers.

Different proportions of gender imbalance

Results include:

  • In one fifth (21.4%) of the conferences analysed, gender balanced to pre-specified criteria of 40-60% female speakers
  • In a further 21.4%, female speakers outnumbered male speakers
  • Among the remaining 55.1%, male speakers outnumbered female speakers
  • There were no conferences with only female or male speakers.

Additionally the mean length of presentation as advertised was 31 minutes (ranging between five and 60 minutes) for female speakers. This compared to 40 minutes (ranging between five and 120 minutes minutes) for male speakers.

There were also two speciality conferences with exclusively female or male specialist speakers. These were endodontics and oral medicine.

The speciality conferences with the highest proportions of female specialist speakers were oral medicine (100%) and dental public health (75%).

Those with the lowest proportions of female specialist speakers were periodontics (10.5%) and endodontics. The latter, however, had no female specialist speakers in the data available.

More representative

The research team concluded: ‘Gender imbalance exists in speakers invited to present at recent conferences in dentistry.

‘There is a call for further research to drive equity in the characteristics of invited speakers. And to determine whether there is correlation with respect to representation in the composition of dental conference organising committees, to leadership and professional roles, and to the workforce.

‘Conference organisers are encouraged to strive proactively and prospectively towards more representative programmes for the entire profession.

‘Organising committees are encouraged to share best practice and the promotion of equity by providing publicly available, online programmes as a source of imperative information to encourage honest and transparent conversation for addressing the balance.’

The full report is available here.

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