Time to end unconscious bias in ecology

This week, colleague Julia Baum (UVic) and I published a response in Nature Ecology & Evolution to Franck Courchamp and Corey Bradshaws ‘100 articles every ecologist must read’.  In their paper, Courchamp and Bradshaw present a highly gender and racially biased list in which 97 of 100 selected articles are first authored by white men. Only two articles are led by women (Camille Parmesan and Mary Power); these are ranked last. One paper is led by a non-white man (Motoo Kimura). Compounding the list’s lack of diversity is its domination by a small number of scientists: 22 of the articles are first authored by only three white men (Robert MacArthur, Bob May and David Tilman), and a further 35 articles are led by only 15 additional white men. We do not dispute that these men have made exceptional contributions to our field. What we do contend is that this list has failed to capture ecology’s diversity of exceptional scientists. This is a result of a flawed sampling design which does not reflect who ecologists are or what they study. Through poor design, their study disproportionately sampled white senior men…and the result…their list is dominated by white senior men authors. We believe that failure to consider and account for these biases in their study design is a result of pervasive unconscious bias in our field.

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