The founders of 500 Women Scientists reported yesterday (April 23) in PLOS Biology that the number of inquiries for contact information on the online database “Request a Woman Scientist,” which now includes about 8,500 people, has reached 100,000 within its first year.
The authors surveyed 1,278 scientists in the database, 11 percent of whom responded that they were contacted by journalists, journal editors, and conference organizers to give interviews, conduct peer review, and serve on panels since adding their information to the database. Of the respondents, 22.7 percent said they identified as an underrepresented minority.
Women who signed up to be in the database are from 133 countries and 174 scientific disciplines, although the US and biological sciences are most frequently represented, according to the assessment.
Media outlets that have stated they source scientists from the database include The Atlantic, Grist, and National Geographic, according to the report.
500 Women Scientists started in 2018 as a call to women scientists to sign a petition to work against bias and inequalities, according to its website. The organization currently has 292 local groups of women scientists who are active in their communities, the authors report. “The open letter was a pledge to not only in the coming years stand up for science, but for the people who are doing science and for the people who should be benefiting from science,” coauthor Maryam Zaringhalam tells STAT.
The authors say this study suggests that there is a need for a database like Request a Woman Scientist. It addresses the issue of “not being able to find women experts,” states the report. Zaringhalam tells STAT, “We’re scientists. We’re lovers of evidence and data points. And so now anytime somebody tells us they couldn’t find someone or there just aren’t enough women in STEM fields, we can point them to [the database]…”
The group also launched 500 Women in Medicine in December 2018, reports STAT.