This year, for the first time ever, two of the largest neuroscience societies are led by a female scientist: the Society for Neuroscience (SfN), with nearly 42,000 members, and the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS), which represents more than 22,000 neuroscientists in 42 member societies across Europe. While the SfN has a history of female presidents, 9 out of 45, FENS welcomed its first female president only recently. Why do women move so slowly through the ranks of the system and why is it important that they do so? More urgently, what can be done to change this and by whom? Here we address current challenges and recommend concrete actions.