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We need to talk about manels: the problem of implicit gender bias in sport and exercise medicine
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  • Published on:
    Author response to Boynton et al. [Response to: We need to talk about manels: the problem of implicit gender bias in sport and exercise medicine, 11 April 2018]
    • Sheree Bekker, Prize Research Fellow Department for Health, University of Bath, UK
    • Other Contributors:
      • James MacDonald, Physician

    We want to thank Boynton et al. for writing a letter to the editor (LTE) in response to our recent editorial on gender disparities in the sport and exercise medicine (SEM) community [1]. As the title of our editorial indicates [We need to talk about manels: the problem of implicit gender bias in sport and exercise medicine], we were primarily motivated to stimulate a conversation about the issues we raised, and an LTE contributes to this conversation [2].

    We were also motivated by a desire to assert that i) the SEM community does indeed manifest many examples of gender disparity; ii) social media has provided a space where this issue is being debated, notably (but not exclusively) under the hashtag #manels; iii) implicit bias is a significant contributor to these disparities, and iv) there exist well-established resources where interested readers might explore their own implicit biases [3].

    It is in these goals, then, that we fundamentally disagree with most of the assertions the LTE authors have made about our work and the conclusions they draw.

    We noted with interest that the authors of the LTE did not take direct issue with our assertion that there exist substantial gender imbalances within the field of SEM. Rather, they took issue with our assertion that implicit gender bias underpins these imbalances.

    We posit in our editorial that implicit bias is a factor contributing to the gender disparities we see in SEM. Discussing implicit bias in t...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.
  • Published on:
    Response to: We need to talk about manels: the problem of implicit gender bias in sport and exercise medicine
    • Jason R. Boynton, PhD Candidate School of Medical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, WA, Australia
    • Other Contributors:
      • Mark Reid, Physiotherapist
      • Kristina Georgiou, Lecturer

    Title:
    Response to: We need to talk about manels: the problem of implicit gender bias in sport and exercise medicine

    A recent editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine asserted that the presence of implicit bias in Sport and Exercise Medicine (SEM) is negatively affecting women in the field.1 We are concerned with the editorial’s lack of scientific approach, poor standard of evidence, and exclusion of important facts.

    The editorial argued implicit bias results in pronounced real-world effects in the form of gendered differences in SEM and society as a whole. However, no substantial scientific evidence of the magnitude of implicit bias’s real-world consequences on gender differences was presented. Instead, circular reasoning was utilized as implicit bias was assumed to manifest the gendered differences present in the SEM field and society.

    Implicit bias has been criticised within its field of psychology. A recent meta-analysis found little evidence that measurements of implicit bias are associated with any real-world manifestations of explicit bias or behaviour.2 Indeed, Patrick Forscher, one of the study’s authors implied in an interview that implicit bias’ use in policy making could be wasteful and even harmful.3

    Research suggests gender has an influence on personality, career preferences, and priorities.4 Indeed, where more freedom is allowed, the greater the disparity in traditionally gendered sectors.5 Extrapolation of thes...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.