I'm a little late to the "gender bias in particle physics" party, where Zuska, DrugMonkey, YoungFemaleScientist, and others too numerous to mention have been tossing back some brewskis and fending off the slobbering gibberish of ridiculous misogynist douchewheels like Gerard Harbison. (BTW, dude, what the fuck is up with that picture of you on your faculty Web page!? You really think anyone is going to mistake the size of that huge shaft in your hands for the size of your schlong?)
Anyhoo, I really just have one narrow point to make about the whole thing, and that relates to the idea that there is a need for "further study" of the relationship between conference presentations and career advancement in science. Are you fucking kidding me!?
Some blog called Okham made the following assertion concerning the relationship between conference presentations and career advancement:
[C]onference presentations, in and of themselves, are only a modest "reward" for one's scientific accomplishments. It is commonly accepted that the main objective of a postdoctoral researcher, is not that of speaking at conferences, but rather landing a university faculty position. Towers' case of GD is ultimately about jobs, not invited talks. Thus, the importance of any imbalance in the allocation among researchers of conference presentations, depends on the (real or perceived) impact of presentations on the main professional aspiration of a postdoctoral scientist. If only a tenuous connection with career advancement can be established, a charge of GD based on conference presentations alone is not likely to be seen of much interest, nor substance.
Dude, what the fuck have you been smoking? Conference presentations are not a "modest reward" for scientific accomplishments. Conference presentations are a hugely important venue for post-docs to make themselves and their work known to the big-ass scientists who control access to the faculty jobs that are the required next step in career advancement.
The mere fact of giving a conference presentation establishes your credibility, and how you perform has a massive influence on how other scientists in your field perceive you. Post-docs who get invited to give presentations are perceived as the "annointed". There is absolutely no question whatsoever about this.
All of these things have a major influence on the hiring process. I have walked up to post-docs at meetings after hearing their outstanding talks, and asked them: "So. You on the job market? Make sure you send your application to us."
I have sat in search committee meetings and said: "Oh, yes! I saw her give a presentation at a meeting a few months ago. It was outstanding!" And how is such a candidate perceived compared to: "Hmm. I've never heard of her"?
"Oh. We need a well-controlled statistical study to determine whether there really is a connection between giving conference presentations and securing faculty positions." Bullshit! This is just fake-ass scientific-sounding apologetics for continued male privilege in science.
The connection between giving conference presentations and getting a faculty position is about as tenuous as the connection between walking into Kentucky Fried Chicken and walking out with a bag of extra fucking crispy!