Welcome to Folks in GCB
Inspired by The Roster of Women & Minorities in Physics, #womenalsoknowstuff, and, especially, DiversifyEEB, Folks in GCB was founded in the Summer of 2017 to highlight folks in the fields of genomics, computational biology, and bioinformatics (GCB) who are not traditionally represented in these fields.
Folks in GCB is a self-nomination list for individuals from groups that are underrepresented in GCB (e.g., women, racial or ethnic minorities, members of the LGBTQ+ community, veterans, among others; please see Self-Nomination Form for more information).
The purpose of this list is two-fold.
First, we aim to provide a resource for people putting together conferences, conducting job searches, or similar tasks. The hope is that when people use a list to identify individuals to include in an event or search, the process will be less fraught with bias than simply relying on one's ability to recall the names of members of these fields.
This phenomenon has been studied in the context of gender bias, but is applicable to all underrepresented groups. For example, when one study contacted organizers for a neuroimmunologist meetings to discuss the cause of their gender inequity, respondents cited “lack of women in senior positions with the appropriate level of expertise.” Notably, when a committee was formed to investigate this issue, they found that there were more than enough women in neuroimmunology to fulfill gender balance, with equal or greater qualifications with respect to publication impact factor as men (Klein, et al. 2017.).
Second, we hope to acknowledge the existence of such bias. Zeng, et al. 2016. reported that underrepresentation of women in genomics was more apparent than in other sub-fields of molecular biology. However, encouragingly, it has been shown that small interventions, such as the inclusion of at least one woman in an organizing committee and explicit instructions to avoid all-male sessions, can greatly reduce the number of sessions that are comprised entirely of speakers who are men at a conference* (Casadevall. 2015.). (You might also check out Moss-Racusin, et al. 2012., National Research Council. 2013., Milkman, et al. 2014., and Sheltzer and Smith. 2014., to name a few.)
We're hopeful other people will track representation at meetings they attend, and that this knowledge, coupled with this resource, will allow us to take concrete steps towards a more representative GCB community.
*We acknowledge that strategies that can help with gender parity do not always translate to increased representation for other underrepresented groups.