Women scientists welcomed the Lancet group of journals’ move to increase gender equity, diversity and inclusion in research and publishing, as they announced a new Diversity Pledge and No All-Male Panel Policy on Friday.
“As a woman physicist who has worked in science for 35 years and also somebody who has been the chief editor of a journal for 10 years, it is a good idea that Lancet is committed to achieving diversity. I like the idea of increasing the representation of women and other underrepresented scientists on editorial boards and experts in general, even though I do not know specific studies about how presence of women editors and referees changes the editing practices of journals,” physicist Rohini Godbole told The Indian Express.
As part of Lancet’s own commitment, all 18 Lancet group journals committed to refreshing their editorial advisory boards to include at least 50 per cent women members. But Godbole said she was not too happy about the 50 per cent target. “The targets should be commensurate with the representation of women in the science community in the particular area. It can be a dynamic target subject to revisions and also specific to different disciplines. I believe in gender equity, not necessarily gender equality, as is indicated by a target of 50 per cent. It is possible that in disciplines that Lancet addresses, perhaps 50 per cent is okay,” said Godbole.
Preeti Kharb, chairperson of the Gender Equity group of the Astronomical Society India (ASI), told The Indian Express that in September 2015, the ASI approved the formation of a working group for gender equity (WGGE) to address gender equity issues within the astronomy and astrophysics community. “Even today, there are zero female faculty members in premier research institutes in the country and WGGE members have been organising sessions to highlight the issue,” she said.
The gender ratios from astrophysics research institutes are presented for each year and talks on overcoming unconscious bias, stopping sexual and gender harassment in the workplace, are presented by WGGE members as well as experts from outside the astrophysics field. “The ASI has been very responsive and childcare facilities are provided regularly now,” she added.