Spanish economists and academics to boycott events without female experts

More than 50 intellectuals have so far backed the call aimed at increasing the presence of women on specialist panels

A debate at the Davos World Economic Forum.
A debate at the Davos World Economic Forum./ Sikarin Thanachaiary (World Economic Forum)

A group of renowned economists and academics from Spain has signed a document promising not to appear as a speaker at any academic event (conference, congress, seminar, etc.) or round-table discussion where there are more than two people taking part but there is no woman present “as an expert.”

The initiative, called No Sin Mujeres (or, Not Without Women), has been backed by 56 men so far. The open list includes experts from various Spanish universities, such as the Autonomous University of Madrid, the Autonomous University of Barcelona and the Complutense University of Madrid, as well as analysts from the Bank of Spain, Elcano Royal Institute and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). Spanish professors from the University of York in the UK and Griffith University in Australia have also signed on.

It is obvious that we are in a country that discriminates against women

Economist Emilio Ontiveros

“It is a way to get in tune with a very obvious demand and give a warning to organizers of academic events,” explains economist Emilio Ontiveros. The professor of business economics at the Autonomous University of Madrid says that the women’s marches and strike on March 8, which brought out hundreds of thousands of women across Spain and made international headlines, “has been a wake-up call to all areas.”

Ontiveros explains that the document began to circulate among academics less than a week ago. “It is obvious that we are in a country that discriminates against women. I am in favor of new mechanisms that make it easier for them to rise up.”

“I think it is an initiative that makes a lot of sense and responds to a completely fair demand,” adds Rafael Domenech, professor of economic analysis at the University of Valencia and chief of Macroeconomic Analytics at Spanish lender BBVA. Domenech says that “on many occasions” he has taken part in panels where there were hardly any female experts. “In specific areas, such as macroeconomics, it is difficult to create forums and courses that guarantee the participation of women.”

“Nothing strange”

CSIS researcher Ángeles Durán says including women in academic debates “adds great value because they tend to have a different perspective.” She adds that the Not Without Women initiative is not “promoting anything strange” given that gender equality in institutions that form academic tribunals and elects judges is already considered under the Science Law, passed in 2011. Refusing to invite female experts to panel discussions is “a reflection of a patriarchal society that sends women the message that they should help and be industrious.”

English version by Melissa Kitson.


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