What counts as merit?

Posted: November 10, 2010 by Jender in women are tokens

There has been some talk on this blog that perhaps women are invited as plenary speakers to increase gender balance, rather than on their own merit. The question here is: what is merit? Is it, for example tenure, or being invited to edited volumes or as plenary speakers? Given the implicit bias women face on the job market and other events I think striving for some sort of gender balance (even if that means one female speaker next to four or five male invitees) is not a bad thing. Recently, there was a philosophical conference centered around a highly specialized field on which I (a woman) am one of the few experts in the world. The problem is – I am only a postdoc. So I was not invited as a plenary speaker there, although the five or so plenary male speakers that have only occasionally browsed in this specialized field were.

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