Your News story “Societies spurn women editors” (Nature 440, 974–975; 200610.1038/440974a) raises valid concerns about the lack of women in leadership positions in many scientific societies and on many editorial boards. The Society for Glycobiology, of which I am currently president, has a membership of chemists, biochemists and biologists. The majority of our members are male, but the society takes a direct route to ensure participation of women in all our activities.
Our leaders and members, as well as the editorial board of our journal, Glycobiology, actively encourage the election of women to leadership positions. Women currently occupy three of the six positions on the society's board of directors. Three of the past ten society presidents have been women, and women make up about 20% of the editorial board. The programme committee has ensured participation of women as platform speakers and session chairs at our annual national meeting. In addition, our policy is to include short talks by two or three junior scientists in every session of the meeting, to allow exposure of their work in a national forum — a policy that helps junior scientists of both genders.
I cite these figures to highlight how a concerted effort to be inclusive can yield meaningful change in leadership positions. Focused, explicit and determined actions to change the balance of participation by women in scientific societies may be required to effect rapid change, rather than the hope that change will eventually occur over time.