From the Journals

Lancet joins movement to reject ‘manels’



The Lancet Group’s 18 medical journals have committed to ensuring that their editorial advisory boards include at least 50% female members by the end of 2019 as just one component of the diversity and gender parity initiative unveiled Aug. 8.

panel of men at a table with microphone webphotographeer/Getty Images

“The case for gender equity and diversity is clear: Teams that are diverse in terms of gender, ethnicity, and social background produce better health science, are more highly cited, generate a broader range of ideas and innovations, and better represent society,” group editors wrote in their comment (Lancet. 2019 Aug 10;394:452-3). They emphasized the importance of increasing inclusion in science “across gender, ethnicity, geography, and other social categories.”

The Diversity Pledge states the group’s commitment “to increasing diversity and inclusion in research and publishing, and in particular to increasing the representation of women and colleagues from low-income and middle-income countries among our editorial advisers, peer reviewers, and authors.”

The No All-Male Panel Policy echoes a call from the National Institutes of Health for ending the “Manel Tradition,” as NIH Director Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, wrote in early June. Recognizing the need “to combat cultural forces that tolerate gender harassment and limit the advancement of women,” Dr. Collins pledged to decline speaking invitations if “attention to inclusiveness” is not clear in the event’s agenda.

Discussion of “manels” – all-male panels – and the decision to boycott them has been picking up speed in scientific, medical and even business circles over the past several years. The BBC highlighted a popular blog that shamed events with all-male panels in 2015, and a 2018 study more formally concluded that male scientists had considerably more opportunities to speak and present at the world’s largest geophysical conference.

One business and development leader even included space on his website to allow other leaders to pledge not to “serve on a panel of two people or more unless there is at least one woman on the panel, not including the chair.” More than 2,000 leaders from across the globe already have signed.

Six months ago, the Lancet published a special theme issue on women in science, medicine, and global health. The editors noted in the issue that women comprise fewer than a third of authors and reviewers in high-impact medical journals – just one example of the underrepresentation of women and people in color in medical publishing. The group is now revamping their systems to address the disparities.

“An upcoming update of our online submission system will have a field for self-selected gender, so we can better track representation across genders among authors, reviewers, editors, and editorial advisers, along with country of origin,” the editors wrote.

But they acknowledged that their efforts are just one piece of the academic ecosystem and called on others’ participation. “We encourage other publishers, journals, and members of the science community to contribute to these pledges.”

SOURCE: Lancet. 2019 Aug 10;394:452-3.

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