Last week, this article appeared in Neuron:"A Tale of Two Sexes" written by Marian Joëls and Carol Mason: the current FENS and SfN president respectively. They write a powerful piece about women in science, the leaky pipeline and factors that cause women to leave science. You should go and read it (and then come back!).
There is one thing that I want to highlight here, which is this:
A study in the Netherlands showed that 77% of all newly appointed medical full professors in the period 1999–2003 were recruited through a closed appointment procedure, i.e., not involving advertisements (Van den Brink, 2011). Understandably, committee members look for candidates who are a younger version of themselves, in other words, Caucasian men around age 40. Just pointing out this fact helped to change things.
This is actually something I have observed as well - and not just for full professor jobs, but for most jobs in academia. In the homecountry, MANY of the post-doc positions, assistent prof positions and apparently also full prof positions are filled without an advertisement. Needless to say, this does not at all increase diversity. And even though the data from the paper that is cited are from 1999-2003, I highly doubt if this is much different now. I haven't been able to find data supporting one or the other, but judging from what I see around me, I wonder if this has changed a lot in the last decade. So that last sentence that I quote: "Just pointing out this fact helped to change things." I have a hard time believing this. I think that in order to change this, a policy should be in place that jobs need to be advertised. Because even though people may post adds while the vacancy is already filled, it makes people stop and think about other candidates, instead of going for the obvious person.