Table 1

Common diversions around the problem of all-male panels

Common diversionsResponse
Myth of meritocracy (we select speakers on expertise not identity)
Women want to be invited based on expertise and not identity
Merit and quotas are not mutually exclusive
See London School of Economics Impact Blog post for a full debunking of this myth:
Merit vs equality? The argument that gender quotas violate meritocracy is based on fallacies
Survivorship bias
There are already women in leadership positions in this field/at this conference
Women are prone to implicit gender bias too
While women may be present in leadership positions, this does not negate the dynamics that make all-male panels a persistent and pervasive problem
Further, it does not automatically follow that women leading/attending Sport and Exercise Medicine events are represented as invited speakers
False narrative of individual choice
We asked—no women were available/they all declined
Interrogate the nature/timing of the event and request
Ask why they declined—can the reason be overcome?
Amplification—ask for recommendations for other experts who identify as women
There are women talking about/at (insert other topic/conference here)The persistent prevalence of all-male panels and keynotes indicates that this is not enough—we need to ensure inclusion and diversity across the board
There are no/not enough women in this field
Women are not interested in this field/topic/conference
Speaks to a much bigger problem about inclusion in the field at large—why are women not progressing/what is keeping them out today?
This is reverse-sexism (similarly, reverse-racism)While many understand sexism and racism as an expression of gender-based and race-based antagonism, institutional power is what transforms prejudice into inequity (Bidol, 1970). Correcting disparities in institutions of power is a first step towards alleviating that inequity
Women need to ‘lean in’ more
Women need more confidence (women of colour, conversely are often implicitly coded as having too much confidence)
This places problematic onus on individual women to ‘lean in’ or ‘be confident’ when there are very real structural barriers that exist
Expecting of women to fit societal expectations will not solve the problem of structural inequity. Redressing structural inequity is an important step to better representation
  • Bidol PA. 1970. Developing new perspectives on race: an innovative multi-media social studies curriculum in racism awareness for the secondary level. Detroit: New Perspectives on Race.