Balance of speakers at CREDS events, 2018 to 2022

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13 June, 2023

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To evaluate progress against our EDI plan, we carried out a review of our events.

In April 2019 CREDS published an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) plan. One of its stated aims was to “take seriously our responsibility to address existing inequalities within the research community. We aim to develop awareness of bias within the practices of CREDS and, more broadly, to adopt measures to address this and to share good practice.”

As part of the evaluation of our progress against our EDI plan, we have carried out a review of events hosted by CREDS. We have examined whether there is a balance between male and female speakers and evaluated the potential for bias in the promotion and platforming of male or female researchers and other experts. Energy research as a whole still has an under-representation of females, particularly at the senior level. Ensuring that the work of female academics is not overlooked, and that events and panels offer platforms for balanced representation is a core value for CREDS.

What have we looked at?

We have examined events which took place between 2018 and 2022. We have included CREDS-hosted events, webinars and workshops which have focused on knowledge exchange and had some element of presentation or exposition. Meetings which were purely organised by research themes or which did not have a presentational or speaker element were excluded.

We have not reported on a variety of protected characteristics but have focused exclusively on whether the speaker is male or female. Whilst we recognise that other characteristics such as race, disability and socioeconomic background are important in equality and diversity monitoring, we do not have that data available, as speakers were not asked to share that information with us.

Our definitions

The report describes our findings of whether the speaker was male or female. We have decided where possible, not to use the terms ‘man/men’ or ‘woman/women’. At the moment there is, in some academic, political and social quarters, a view that the term ‘man’ refers to anyone who ‘identifies as’ a man and ‘woman’ as anyone who ‘identifies’ as a woman. Whilst we are not taking any view on the merits or otherwise of this approach, we have decided to use the categories of ‘male’ and ‘female’ for clarity. The speakers were not asked to disclose their gender identity, gendered soul or any other sense of their personal, internal sense of being. The categories of ‘male’ and ‘female’ therefore refer to third-party observed data as to whether the individuals are observably in fact male or female.  There is a high confidence factor in these observations.

Our findings

There were 48 events during 2018- 2022.  Across the entirety of the events looked at, the results showed 58% of speakers were male and 42% female.

In each of the five years the results can be broken down as follows.

Figure 1: Proportion of female to male speakers at CREDS events, 2018 to 2022. Details: 2018 – 41% female, 59% male. 2019 – 43% female, 57% male. 2020 – 46% female, 54% male. 2021 – 45% female, 55% male. 2022 – 39% female, 61% male.

The balance remained relatively consistent across all 5 years at around 60% male and 40% female. This data set also covered the challenging Covid lockdown period and the increase in web-hosted rather than in-person events.  This change in format does not appear to have made significant impact on the ratio of male to female speakers that took part.

Looking in more detail at individual events, some trends emerged. If we look at just at the Whole Centre Meetings,(WCM), during the early years of the project, when the WCMs focused more on set-up and best practice, there were more female speakers. In later years, when the focus shifted to research findings, the balance changed in favour of males.  This is likely to be as a result of the Core group being made up of mainly female expertise, who spoke at the early WCMs on areas of project set-up and management, knowledge exchange, communications, policy and impact. As the emphasis shifted to the presentation of research findings, more male speakers emerged.

Figure 2: WCM1, April 2018: 7 male, 2 female speakers. WCM2, September 2018: 3 male, 5 female speakers. WCM3, January 2019: 6 male, 6 female speakers. WCM4, June 2019: 14 male, 7 female speakers. WCM5, December 2019: 11 male, 10 female speakers. WCM6, June 2020: 12 male, 10 female speakers. WCM7, March 2021: 19 male, 15 female speakers. WCM interim, October 2021: 4 male, 4 female speakers. WCM8, December 2021: 14 male, 12 female speakers. WCM9, September 2022: 34 male, 22 female speakers.


Whilst there is no information on the exact male/female split in energy research specifically, females are underrepresented in STEM in general and in the energy sector as a whole.  Female graduates in core STEM subjects are at around 24% of the total UK number and UKRI figures reveal female grant winners account for 28% of Principal Investigators and 33% for Co-Investigators.

In social sciences and humanities, women fare better and make up around 48% of academics, of which a small percentage will have an energy-related field of interest. CREDS is a multi-disciplinary research project and draws expertise from a wide range of areas. The CREDS consortium is made up of a 38% female and 62% male workforce across all its functions and themes (as of end 2022).

Projects as large and impactful as CREDS have an important role to play to offer fair opportunity to both sexes to see their work promoted and their voices platformed. The figures presented here include speakers who are part of CREDS as well as invited, external speakers. Whilst we did not achieve a complete balance, our events did not disproportionately favour males and are in line with – indeed, better than – the female representation in STEM overall. They also sit slightly above the percentages of the CREDS population as a whole.  It is reasonable to conclude that there is no underlying or unconscious bias at work within the culture of CREDS which favours male participation over female.

It is difficult to benchmark this data against comparable projects, as there is no published information about the gender balance of speakers at events. However, as EDI gains more prominence within research, it is likely that a body of EDI data will begin to amass which will provide this context for future improvement.


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