Barrel Cortex Function 2016

Barrel Cortex Function 2016

Organizers: Fritjof Helmchen, Jochen Staiger, Heiko Luhmann, Christiaan De Kock
Funded by: Multiple sponsors
Invited speaker gender ratio: 3 Women : 25 Men (11%)
Estimated* base rate of females in the field: 27% (average of two estimates)

*Method of estimation: Searching NIH RePORTER with keywords “barrel” AND “cortex” and counting the ratio of women among the unique researchers in the 43 active grants gave 28%. A second search on active grants with keywords “somatosensory” AND “cortex” gave 202 results with 176 unique PIs, 26% of them women.


Information, Control, and Learning

Information, Control, and Learning: The Ingredients of Intelligent Behavior

Organizers: Naftali Tishby, Yair Weiss and Israel Nelken
Invited speaker gender ratio: 4 Women : 18 Men (18%)
Estimated* base rate of females in the field: 46%

*Method of estimation: we searched NIH RePORTER with keywords “information” AND “control” AND “learning” AND “behavior” and counted the number of women among the unique researchers in pages 5, 10 and 15 of the 17 pages of results.

New Challenges in Neural Computation 2016

New Challenges in Neural Computation 2016

Organizers: Barbara Hammer, Thomas Martinetz and Thomas Villmann
Sponsored by: European Neural Networks Society and by the CITEC centre of excellence
Invited speaker gender ratio: 0 Women : 2 Men (0%)
Estimated* base rate of females in the field: 17-18%

Although there are only two invited speakers, over the years of the conference not a single woman was ever an invited speaker (11 invited speakers so far). This calculator suggests that in a field with 17% women, the chance of a sample of 11 not including a single woman is 13%, while the likelihood of over-representing women in an unbiased sample is 58%.

*Method of estimation: Previously established base rate for women in computational neuroscience.

No prize-worthy women?

Not only conferences, but many prize committees suffer from the same unintentional biases, awarding women with fewer than 10% (and sometimes 0%) of awards. Here are a few examples:

Swartz Prize for Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience – Awarded since 2008, to 8 men, no women (current selection committee: 7 men, 1 woman)

The Brain Prize – Awarded since 2011, to 19 men and 2 women (current selection committee: 6 men, 3 women)

Koetser Award – Awarded by the Betty & David Koetser Foundation for Brain Research since 2006, to 11 men and 1 woman, jointly awarded with her husband (selection committee not publicly available)

This lack of women recipients is not due to lack of women engaged in prize-worthy cutting-edge neuroscience research, as apparent from prizes that are awarded to women proportionally to their base-rate in science:

Edward M. Scolnick Prize in Neuroscience – Awarded since 2004, to 10 men and 4 women (current selection committee: 4 men, 2 women)

Base rate of women researchers in neuroscience: 24% as estimated by the percentage of women faculty in top neuroscience programs in USA

Base rate of women researchers in computational neuroscience: 17-18% as estimated from the percentage of women attendees at COSYNE

Computational Neurology Conference 2017

Computational Neurology Conference 2017

Organizers: Roman Bauer, Anupam Hazra, Luis Peraza Rodriguez, Peter Taylor, Yujiang Wang
Funders: see here
Invited speaker gender ratio: 0 Women : 9 Men currently confirmed (0%)
Estimated* base rate of females in the field: 28%

*Method of estimation: Searching NIH RePORTER with the terms “computational” AND “neurology” returned 8 women and 21 men unique PIs. This is a small sample, however, since the conference is advertised as gathering researchers “applying advances in computing and neuroscience for clinically relevant purposes” other base rates, such as from computational psychiatry are also relevant, and suggest the same number.

15th Brain Connectivity Workshop

15th Brain Connectivity Workshop

Organizers: Viktor Jirsa (Scientific Organizer), Demian Battaglia, Christian Bénar, Mirerille Bonnard, Andrea Brovelli, Monique Esclapez, Maxime Guye, Ingo Bojak (local scientific committee)
Funders: see here
Invited speaker gender ratio: 1 Woman : 19 Men (5%)
Estimated* base rate of females in the field: 40%

*Method of estimation: NIH RePORTER with text keyword “brain connectivity” and count the proportion of women among unique PIs on pages 1 & 4 of the 6 pages of results.

Symposia on Memory

Symposia on Memory

Organizers: Nicolas Brunel, Sandro Romani & Alex Roxin
Funded by: Simons Foundation, HHMI Janelia Research Campus
Invited speaker gender ratio: 2 Women : 23 Men (8%)
Estimated* base rate of females in the field: 34%

*Method of estimation: Since the website says that “topics include: spatial memory, biophysical models of synaptic plasticity” we searched NIH RePORTER with text keywords “memory” AND (“spatial memory” OR “biophysical models” OR “synaptic plasticity”) and counted the proportion of women among unique PIs on pages 5, 10, 15 & 25 of the 35 pages of results.