Virtual Conference

Presentation Title: Does it really matter? The under-representation of women at academic business conferences
Presenters: Dr Trudie Walters, Najmeh Hassanli and Wiebke Finkler

Abstract: Gender inequality within academia has largely been a focus of attention in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) discipline areas, highlighting a deeply entrenched masculine culture, under-representation of women in the workforce, as well as in undergraduate degree programmes and faculty positions. In contrast, the relative lack of studies on gender inequality in business schools is concerning, suggesting there is ‘nothing to see here’. This research project seeks to broaden our understanding of gender inequality in academia beyond the STEM fields. It is the first study to investigate perceptions of gender representation across a wide range of academic business disciplines, and includes the representation of women at academic conferences in these disciplines. A survey (n=452) of academics and PhD students in 25 top universities in Australia and New Zealand found a widespread perception among respondents that women were under-represented across academic business disciplines. This gender inequality was even more distorted and visible at the most public and influential of fora – academic conferences. We discuss these perceptions, along with the far-reaching and nuanced impacts of this gender inequality on both academic staff and postgraduate students, and argue that yes, it does matter.

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