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Who are we now? A demographic assessment of the evolution societies


Matute, Daniel; Catherine, Rushworth (2021), Who are we now? A demographic assessment of the evolution societies , Dryad, Dataset,


Scientific societies have the potential to catalyze support for communities that have been historically excluded from science. Many of these societies have formed committees to propose and administer initiatives to promote the career and well-being of their members, with a special emphasis on racial and ethnic minorities. Yet, these societies are rarely armed with data to inform their proposals. Three of the evolution societies (American Society of Naturalists, "ASN"; Society of Systematic Biologists, "SSB"; Society for the Study of Evolution, "SSE") have also formed Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committees in the last few years. As a first step in determining the needs of the societies, these committees collected data on the demographic characteristics of the societies' constituents by surveying the attendants of the Evolution 2019 meeting. Here, we report the proportions for different demographic groups in attendance at the meeting and compare these proportions to the demographics of recipients of Ph.D. degrees either in evolutionary biology or in the broader life sciences, as well as population demographics of the USA. Our results indicate that historically excluded groups are still underrepresented across US-based evolutionary biology professional societies. We explore whether demographic composition differs at different professional stages and find that representation for women and LGBTQ+ members decreases as career stage progresses. We also find some evidence for heterogeneity across societies in terms of racial composition. Finally, we discuss the caveats and limitations of our procedures. Our results will serve to inform future efforts to collect demographic data at the society levels, which should in turn be used to design and implement evidence-based initiatives for inclusion and equity. This report should be a starting point for systematic efforts to characterize ever-changing representation in evolutionary biology and to work towards inclusion of all groups.