Women need to be seen and heard at conferences

Conference organizers should not feel that they have done their duty if they invite a top woman scientist who declines. The most successful women in science get inundated with invitations, but there will always be other successful women to choose from, and identifying them has been made easy. Anne’s List (created by computational neuroscientist Anne Churchland at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York) groups female neuroscientists easily into topic and seniority level. In Europe, AcademiaNet identifies women across scientific disciplines.


FAQ on gender equity at scholarly conferences

Good stuff here.

Q. What counts as making a good-faith effort? A. We have adapted 6 good suggestions from http://feministphilosophers.wordpress.com/2011/03/26/how-to-avoid-a-gendered-conference/ In brief:

  • Set yourself the task of thinking of female names
  • Since women are overrepresented at lower prestige institutions, don't stop searching once you have exhausted the people at high-prestige * institutions
  • Do a search for women's names in the relevant areas
  • Plan ahead, so that women, who might have more non-work responsibilities, have adequate time to make arrangements
  • Don't automatically structure your conference – or part of it – around an eminent man but consider building it around a woman
  • Provide adequate funding so that women, who may have fewer resources, will be able to afford to come Inquire about child care needs (for both men and women).

Increasing diversity at your conference

Great compilation of advice from Ashe Dreyden. Tech-centered but a lot of it is very applicable to academice conferences, too.

The easiest way to get feedback on your efforts is to publically state what you've tried and ask for contructive criticism. Be transparent and truthful. I've seen many conferences write blog posts about what they've done to address the issue of the lack of diversity and the positive or negative results that they ended up with. This is important for a few reasons: it signals that this is important to you and that you are open to more ideas as well as letting people within marginalized groups know that you are considering their needs and the reality of their situations.

Calling attention to meetings with skewed speaker gender ratios, even when it hurts, part 2

Great post from Jonathan Eisen.

Why is this important? Well, speaking at a meeting is important for people's careers. It helps in merit and promotion and tenure cases. It helps get their work recognized and known. Speaking at a meeting is also good practice for speaking at other meetings. Having diverse speakers also is important in terms of providing role models to attendees. And having diverse speakers helps a meeting not just be about the same old, white, men talking about their ideas. Or, in other words, it makes a meeting more, well, diverse. And almost certainly more interesting. And so on.

Jonathan Eisen's suggestions for having diverse speakers at meetings

  1. Do not try to invite only the famous people or the people doing the "top" work. This usually biases one towards more established researchers (as in, older) and this alas also usually is accompanied by distortion of diversity.

  2. DO try to invite people across the breadth of career stages. Meetings to me should not be only about getting the PIs whose labs are doing the best work to talk. It should also be about giving opportunities to junior researchers - PhD students, post docs and junior faculty who are doing exciting work - perhaps more focused or smaller scale - but nevertheless exciting. If one opens up a invited speaker list to people at diverse career stages one generally greatly increases the gender and ethnic diversity.

10 simple rules to achieve conference speaker gender balance

Rule 2: Develop a Speaker Policy

A speaker policy captures what the committee is trying to achieve for its members and audience when putting together the speaker program. It can also help the committee measure outcome. A policy may state, for example, that the conference committee wants to achieve a gender balance of speakers that roughly reflects that of its audience. Depending on the conference or meeting, the policy might include scientific diversity, geographical distribution, ethnicity, and level of seniority in the speaker policy.

I don't see a lot of speaker policies for conferences I attend or know about - either they don't exist, or aren't advertised.