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No Shrinking Violets

It’s no secret that there’s a gender gap in science – although women are doing well in the social and life sciences, they’re still underrepresented in math-heavy subjects, such as physics and engineering. But even in fields with relative gender parity – like medicine – women are often falling behind when it comes to top leadership positions. As we’ve mentioned before, this problem affects ophthalmology too (1).

But things are improving. A recent study of vision science researchers brings promising news for women entering the field: the gender gap continues to shrink. For such a varied research area – which includes neuroscience, computational vision and cognitive psychology – researchers compared attendee information at the Annual Meeting of the Vision Sciences Society from 2004 and between 2006–2015. And they found that, although the majority of vision scientists at all career levels are male, this gap is largest among senior scientists, with gender parity being much closer among predoctoral student attendees, suggesting that the next-generation of senior vision scientists should have a more diverse gender mix (2). Although a longitudinal analysis of individual attendees showed that women in training have a higher dropout rate than men, the researchers found that that if women remain in academia, they can look forward to similar levels of career advancement as their male counterparts

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  1. M Link, “Why aren’t women winning?”, The Ophthalmologist, 14, 47–49 (2015). Available at:
  2. EA Cooper, A Radonjić, “Gender representation in the vision sciences: a longitudinal study”, J Vis, [In Press], 2016. PMID: 26818970.
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