Are men more likely to attend EA London events? Attendance data, 2016-2018.

Summary

Us­ing EA Lon­don at­ten­dance data, David Nash and I found that women* are just as likely to at­tend one EA event as men. How­ever, women are less likely to re­turn to fu­ture EA events. Women and men are about equally likely to at­tend most learn­ing-fo­cused events, like talks and read­ing groups. Women are much less likely to at­tend so­cials and strat­egy meet­ings. I dis­cuss our method­ol­ogy and im­pli­ca­tions for EA com­mu­ni­ties.

Introduction

Over the past three years, di­ver­sity in EA has been a re­cur­ring theme on the EA Fo­rum. Alex Gor­don-Brown sug­gested four types of di­ver­sity: di­ver­sity of tal­ent, ex­pe­rience, opinion, and ap­pear­ance. He ar­gues that al­though bonds built on vi­sual at­tributes like race and gen­der are nor­mally weaker than bonds based on shared ex­pe­riences or opinions, they are still im­por­tant be­cause they’re built so quickly. If there are only a few women in a room full of men, we should ex­pect them to be un­com­fortable, even if no one has been un­pleas­ant to them.

Sugges­tions on im­prov­ing di­ver­sity in Effec­tive Altru­ism com­mu­ni­ties have been made here and here. Sugges­tions on how to have these con­ver­sa­tions con­struc­tively, with­out to­k­eniz­ing or min­i­miz­ing the peo­ple already in our com­mu­nity, have been made here.

EA Lon­don’s events tend to at­tract more men than women; our typ­i­cal monthly pub so­cial would be 70% male and 30% fe­male. Is this be­cause women are less likely to at­tend EA Lon­don events for the first time, less likely to re­turn, or both?

David Nash and I found that women are just as likely to at­tend one EA event as men, but are less likely to re­turn to fu­ture EA events. Women and men are about equally likely to at­tend most learn­ing-fo­cused events, like talks and read­ing groups, but women are much less likely to at­tend so­cials and strat­egy meet­ings.

In this ar­ti­cle, I de­scribe our re­search meth­ods and limi­ta­tions; pre­sent the data EA Lon­don has col­lected; dis­cuss im­pli­ca­tions for EA com­mu­ni­ties; and sug­gest next steps for EA gen­der re­search.

Meth­ods and Limitations

David com­piled at­ten­dance data from 5/​6/​2016 to 8/​3/​2018. He used a soft­ware pro­gram to code names as likely male or fe­male; he then cor­rected some of the en­tries man­u­ally.

It’s pos­si­ble that we’ve mis­gen­dered some at­ten­dees, es­pe­cially if they only at­tended one or two events. Be­cause we’re us­ing ag­gre­gate data about hun­dreds of peo­ple I’m not par­tic­u­larly wor­ried—I think the gen­eral trend is still use­ful.

Ob­vi­ously, it’s im­pos­si­ble to know if the trends we find in Lon­don ap­ply any­where else. I’m shar­ing them here as a start­ing point for re­search in other com­mu­ni­ties and dis­cus­sion about gen­der in EA spaces.

Data

Below, we have at­ten­dance data by gen­der for all at­ten­dees be­tween June 5th 2016 and March 8th 2018. The column to the left shows how many events a given in­di­vi­d­ual has at­tended; for ex­am­ple, there are 94 men and 37 women who have at­tended four or more events in the last two years. As a per­centage, 28.24% of peo­ple who at­tended four or more EA Lon­don events since June 5th 2016 are women.

# of events

Fe­male Percentage

Male #

Fe­male #

Just 1 event

50.40%

473

481

1+ event

46.88%

681

601

2+ event

36.59%

208

120

3+

33.88%

121

62

4+

28.24%

94

37

5+

28.26%

66

26

6+

25%

54

18

7+

21.43%

44

12

8+

21.28%

37

10

9+

23.08%

30

9

10+

22.86%

27

8

11+

21.88%

25

7

12+

23.08%

20

6

13+

25%

18

6

14+

23.81%

16

5

20+

26.67%

11

4

This table rep­re­sents the same data in a differ­ent way, show­ing how women are much less likely than men to have at­tended more than seven EA Lon­don events in the last two years.

Over the past two years, how many at­ten­dees have been to ex­actly…?

% Female

Male

Female

1 event

50.40%

473

481

2-3 events

42.13%

114

83

4-6 events

33.33%

50

25

7-19 events

19.51%

33

8

20+ events

26.67%

11

4

This table com­pares at­ten­dance at EA Lon­don so­cial events (par­tic­u­larly our monthly pub so­cials) to all other events we host (in­clud­ing talks, read­ing groups, and ca­reer-spe­cific net­work­ing events). This data shows that women are much less likely than men to at­tend so­cials, but about as likely to at­tend non-so­cial events.


Year

Attendance

Female

Percentage

Total

2016

732

372

51%

2017

1743

689

40%

2018

424

177

42%

Social

2016

240

97

40%

2017

812

270

33%

2018

208

71

34%

Non Social

2016

492

275

56%

2017

931

419

45%

2018

216

106

49%

At­ten­dance data by event type (not pic­tured) shows that EA Lon­don strat­egy meet­ings and monthly pub so­cials are much more likely to be at­tended by men than women.

Im­pli­ca­tions for EA Communities

In Lon­don, women are as likely as men to at­tend an EA event for the first time. Mar­ket­ing events differ­ently to at­tract more women seems un­nec­es­sary. We don’t have a prob­lem at­tract­ing women; we are just less likely to re­tain them.

EA Lon­don events aimed at new­com­ers tend to be gen­der bal­anced, while so­cials and strat­egy meet­ings are heav­ily male. This makes sense: we’d ex­pect new­comer events to be gen­der-bal­anced be­cause 47% of at­ten­dees at EA Lon­don events are fe­male and 50% of at­ten­dees who only at­tend one event are fe­male. Given that ¾ of reg­u­lar at­ten­dees are male, we’d ex­pect strat­egy meet­ings to be male-dom­i­nated. It’s more sur­pris­ing that the monthly pub so­cial was so heav­ily male, given that it was ad­ver­tised to new­com­ers. How­ever, a group of men who are quite in­volved in EA Lon­don reg­u­larly at­tend the monthly pub so­cials, which may ex­plain why they skew male.

It’s not ob­vi­ous why women are less likely to re­turn to EA Lon­don events. I’m cur­rently do­ing some qual­i­ta­tive re­search to in­ves­ti­gate what mo­ti­vates men and women to at­tend EA Lon­don events. I plan to pub­lish it within the next month.

Next Steps

EA Lon­don at­tracts a near-equal num­ber of men and women to its events, but men are more likely to re­turn to fu­ture events. We don’t yet know why this hap­pens, but it skews so­cials and strat­egy meet­ings male.

It could be use­ful for other com­mu­ni­ties to track their at­ten­dance and see if they find similar re­sults. A se­ries of in­ter­views with women from differ­ent EA com­mu­ni­ties who have stopped at­tend­ing events would also be helpful.

*We made rather sim­plis­tic as­sump­tions for this re­search, based on peo­ple’s names and gen­der pre­sen­ta­tion. I rec­og­nize that not ev­ery­one feels com­fortable with this bi­nary. Nev­er­the­less, I hope that this re­search will be a step to­ward mak­ing EA Lon­don more wel­com­ing to a wider range of peo­ple.