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Can the University of California bar males from presenting research at a biology conference? – Publications – AEI

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AEI Can the University of California bar males from presenting research at a biology conference? That’s the question James Freeman asks in his Wall Street Journal column today “No Men Allowed“: Next week the University of California, San Diego’s prestigious Scripps Institution of Oceanography is the location for an intriguing academic conference. It’s devoted to the microorganisms that exist on and within all of us. But participation by a much larger type of organism will be significantly restricted. The microbiome describes the community of tiny living things that exist on a human body, for example, while the metabolome describes chemicals found in a particular biological sample, such as blood. The UC San Diego website informs: During the first day of this event, leading researchers will

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Can the University of California bar males from presenting research at a biology conference?

Can the University of California bar males from presenting research at a biology conference? - Publications – AEI

That’s the question James Freeman asks in his Wall Street Journal column today “No Men Allowed“:

Next week the University of California, San Diego’s prestigious Scripps Institution of Oceanography is the location for an intriguing academic conference. It’s devoted to the microorganisms that exist on and within all of us. But participation by a much larger type of organism will be significantly restricted.

The microbiome describes the community of tiny living things that exist on a human body, for example, while the metabolome describes chemicals found in a particular biological sample, such as blood. The UC San Diego website informs:

During the first day of this event, leading researchers will present on the emerging science of the Urobiome and its recently discovered implications for human health, including common conditions such as urinary tract infection, urinary incontinence and bladder overactivity.

The following two days will feature high-impact presentations on the latest discoveries in microbiome sciences, with sessions on topics ranging from the microbiome in human disease and wellness and the metabolome, to primate microbiomes, to environmental and ocean microbiomes. For this first edition, we have decided to demonstrate that it is possible to have a large representation of women presenters in a scientific meeting by inviting only women speakers.

Update: The sentence above has been scrubbed from the UCSD website, but you can see the original cached version here and in the graph below below (click to enlarge):

Can the University of California bar males from presenting research at a biology conference? - Publications – AEIAlso, see an archived UCSD website here and below from a few weeks ago:Can the University of California bar males from presenting research at a biology conference? - Publications – AEINo male humans allowed at the podium? According to the school’s website, at least as of January 2018 the student conduct code prohibits violations of the “University’s community standards.” Such violations include:

Conduct that is so severe and/or pervasive, and objectively offensive, and that so substantially impairs a person’s access to University programs or activities that the person is effectively denied equal access to the University’s resources and opportunities.

Such conduct includes, but is not limited to, conduct that is motivated on the basis of a person’s race, color, national or ethnic origin, citizenship, sex, gender, religion, age, sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity, pregnancy, marital status, ancestry, service in the uniformed services, physical or mental disability, medical condition, or perceived membership in any of these classifications.

A reasonable person would surely conclude that the conduct in this case is motivated on the basis of sex and that access to a university activity—the opportunity to present research at a university event—has been denied. A ban on male presenters would certainly seem to be severe and pervasive at least during the two days of presentations, but perhaps the college could argue that it doesn’t plan to make a habit of gender bans. As for “objectively offensive,” how many Americans aren’t offended by overt discrimination on the basis of sex?

Here’s more:

Speaking of inconvenient numbers, even if one is willing to consider the idea of inviting only women to address certain academic conferences, one might first want to carefully define the problem to be solved at American universities. Mark Perry at the American Enterprise Institute writes this week:

By 1982, women became the majority gender for bachelor’s degrees for the first time, and today women earn 57.4% of bachelor’s degrees, which means there are 135 women earning bachelor’s degrees for every 100 men…

Starting in 1987, women became the permanent majority gender for master’s degrees, and currently earn 58.4% of master’s degrees, which is 140.4 women earning a master’s degree for every 100 men.

He adds that women “currently earn 111.4 doctoral degrees for every 100 degrees earned by men… On a cumulative basis, women have earned 13 million more college degrees than men at all levels (associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s and doctor’s degrees) over the last 36 years (see chart above).”

Conference organizers might point out various scientific fields where male researchers outnumber women. But that wouldn’t answer the question of whether and how to address the overall academic gender gap that is resulting in far more degrees awarded to women compared to men.

Back down in San Diego, there’s no word yet on whether any of the conference organizers will face disciplinary action, but perhaps UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep Khosla can address the issue. Since he’s currently prohibited from presenting at the conference, maybe he can find a campus venue where he’s eligible to report on what he’s learned.

Can the University of California bar males from presenting research at a biology conference?
Mark Perry

Mark Perry
Mark J. Perry is concurrently a scholar at AEI and a professor of economics and finance at the University of Michigan’s Flint campus. He is best known as the creator and editor of the popular economics blog Carpe Diem. At AEI, Perry writes about economic and financial issues for American.com and the AEIdeas blog.

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