Correction: In an earlier version of this post I implied people were invited. I stand corrected. The summit was open and promoted on Twitter. And among the many organizers, I left out Deborah Blum and Tom Levenson.
Women outnumber men in science writing programs, but we are still outnumbered in actual science writing. According to data gathered by graduate students Karen Hess and Aparna Vidyasagar, only 35 percent of technology stories and 38 percent of science stories from major news organizations are produced by women.
In a story appearing in the Columbia Journalism Review, Women science writers conference about changing the ratio, Cristine Russell compiles other figures as well. The conference, Solutions Summit for Women in Science Writing, was held last June at MIT. In a survey commissioned for the meeting, 54 percent of women and 44 percent of men reported some form of sex-based discrimination. (It’s a little ambiguous here whether the men are reporting witnessing discrimination against women, which I’d assume is the case, or whether they mean they were discriminated against as men.)
Women are also underrepresented among sources cited in science stories and among authors of stories included in anthologies and top-ranked books.
The meeting drew 90 people, and was organized by Emily Willingham along with Christie Aschwanden, Kathleen Raven, Seth Mnookin, Florence Williams, Maryn McKenna, Tom Levenson and Deborah Blum. It looks like a worthwhile meeting. I would have gone in a heartbeat with plenty of stories to tell had I known about it.
Tabitha Powledge also debriefed the rest of us in her PLOS blog. She included some observations on tribalism in the science writing world. There was a time it seemed like one big friendly tribe, but that may no longer be the case. – Faye Flam