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Gender equity remains a large issue in academia, with women comprising only about one fifth of professors in the US. There are many changes that can be made to increase equity, including institutional policies, cultural change and bottom-up strategies, but these can be difficult or slow to implement at a departmental level. Hiring is one area that can be easily tackled at a departmental level and is strongly influenced by implicit and systematic bias. Here we focus on two methods of tackling bias in recruitment – redefining merit and identified positions.
Here we describe the current issue of gender inequity at the independent group leader level in many biology departments. We provide evidence-based insight into the causes of current gender imbalances while focusing on implicit bias and the redefning of 'merit'. We conclude with five specific suggestions that can be implemented at the departmental level to improve gender balance and diversity in biology.