Analysis of ISCB honorees and keynotes reveals disparities

Trang Le, Daniel Himmelstein,
Ariel Hippen Anderson, Matthew Gazzara,  Casey Greene*

University of Pennsylvania

Virtual ISMB 2020

Recorded by 2020-06-30

Peer recognition is central to how scientists progress in their careers.

Do the composition of ISCB honorees reflect the composition of the field?

~ 34,000 corresponding authors

412 society honorees

Gender analysis

first name    probability of male/female

{first_name}	{probability_male}
david		0.99
sarah		0.02
avery		0.67

No significant difference in gender proportion between honorees and authors.

Name origin analysis

English Wikipedia 2019 category of Living People

LSTM 3-grams

probability of name originating from each of 10 NamePrism country groups

LSTM model is well-calibrated and shows strong performance across origin categories.

East Asian names are NOT often mistaken as Greek names.

The classifier is more prone to mistaking South Asian names as Celtic/English.

Affiliation analysis

pubmedpy + speaker bio.

{wru} to estimate race and ethnicity of
US-affiliated scientists

enrichment analysis to assess affiliation over/under-representation

Overrepresentation of US-affiliated honorees

US-affiliated scientists

US-affiliated scientists

US-affiliated scientists

US-affiliated scientists

US-affiliated scientists

US-affiliated scientists

US-affiliated scientists

Key findings

~ 30,000 papers, 412 honorees, 700,000 name-nationality pairs


  • % female honorees has kept pace with increasing levels of female authorship, but neither has yet to reach gender parity.
  • Celtic/English names are overrepresented
  • East Asian names are underrepresented
  • the U.S. received 85 more honorees than expected
  • excess of white honorees
  • depletion of Asian honorees

Where are we heading?


  • 12 ISCB Fellows
  • 5 ISMB keynote speakers

prob(having an East Asian name) ~ 33%

Societies can design policies to honor scientists in ways that counter these biases.


Casey Greene @greenescientist

Daniel Himmelstein @dhimmel

Ariel Hippen Anderson @AHippenAnderson

Matthew Gazzara @MR_Gazzara

Needhi Bhalla @NeedhiBhalla

Iddo Friedberg @iddux

Anonymous reviewers




Data & Resources