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We need to talk about manels: the problem of implicit gender bias in sport and exercise medicine
  1. Sheree Bekker1,
  2. Osman H Ahmed2,3,
  3. Ummukulthoum Bakare4,5,
  4. Tracy A Blake6,7,
  5. Alison M Brooks8,
  6. Todd E Davenport9,
  7. Luciana De Michelis Mendonça10,
  8. Lauren V Fortington11,
  9. Michael Himawan12,
  10. Joanne L Kemp13,
  11. Karen Litzy12,
  12. Roland F Loh14,
  13. James MacDonald15,
  14. Carly D McKay16,
  15. Andrea B Mosler13,
  16. Margo Mountjoy17,
  17. Ann Pederson18,
  18. Melanie I Stefan19,20,
  19. Emma Stokes21,22,
  20. Amy J Vassallo23,24,
  21. Jackie L Whittaker25
  1. 1Unaffiliated, South Africa
  2. 2Bournemouth University, Bournemouth, UK
  3. 3The FA Centre for Disability Football Research, The Football Association, UK
  4. 4Physiotherapy Department, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
  5. 5Medical and Scientific Commission, Nigeria Olympic Committee, Lagos, Nigeria
  6. 6Department of Physiotherapy, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  7. 7Canadian Sport Institute Ontario, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  8. 8University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA
  9. 9Department of Physical Therapy, University of the Pacific, Stockton, California, USA
  10. 10Universidade Federal dos Vales do Jequitinhonha e Mucuri (UFVJM), Diamantina, Brazil
  11. 11Australian Centre for Research into Injury in Sport and its Prevention (ACRISP), Federation University Australia, Ballarat, Victoria, Australia
  12. 12Unaffiliated, USA
  13. 13La Trobe Sport and Exercise Medicine Research Centre, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  14. 14Kingston University London, London, UK
  15. 15Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, Ohio, USA
  16. 16Department for Health, University of Bath, Bath, UK
  17. 17McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
  18. 18BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  19. 19Edinburgh Medical School: Biomedical Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  20. 20ZJU-UoE Institute, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China
  21. 21World Confederation for Physical Therapy, London, UK
  22. 22Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
  23. 23University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  24. 24Franklin Women, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  25. 25University of Alberta and Glen Sather Sports Medicine Clinic, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Sheree Bekker; shereebekker{at}

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In 2015, a website ( began documenting instances of all-male panels (colloquially known as a ‘manel’). This, along with the Twitter hashtag #manel, has helped drive recognition of the persistent and pervasive gender bias in the composition of experts assembled to present at conferences and other events.

Recent social media discussions have similarly highlighted the prevalence of all-male panels in Sport and Exercise Medicine (SEM). While, to our knowledge, all-male panel trends in SEM have not yet formally been documented or published, one need look no further than SEM conference committees, keynote speaker lists, panels and other events to see that it exists in practice. Why, in 2018, is SEM and its related disciplines still failing to identify and acknowledge the role that implicit bias plays in the very structure of our own research, practice and education? SEM is, after all, a profession that contains experts, and serves populations, of all genders.

This editorial will introduce the definition, implications and manifestations of implicit gender bias and then explore how the SEM community can begin to address this issue, advance the discussion and develop a more equitable global community.

What is implicit bias?

Social cognitive theory describes ‘implicit bias’ as the unconscious …

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  • Contributors SB drafted this manuscript. All other coauthors critically reviewed and edited the manuscript.

  • Funding This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Correction notice This article has been corrected since it was published Online First. Table 2 has been corrected in order to remove a statement pointing to an external document, which was not published.