Promoting Diversity in Meeting and Workshop Talks

Having helped put together workshops, meetings and seminar series, I realize how easy it is to recommend the same types of people to speak (i.e. older white males). They are prominent in the literature and are often the first names that come to mind. However, as I think deeper about who I should invite to fill a particular slot, once I get past the first 3-5 people, more names come up. These are typically not older white males.

As Jonathan Eisen frequently points out in his blog, The Tree of Life, there are lots of meetings where the male:female ratio is suboptimal. In his latest post on this topic, he points to a meeting at his home institution that sports a speaker ration of 15:1 (male:female). And, he points out that mending the male:female is just the beginning; speakers should span multiple types of people that encompass all who are trying to forge a career in science. In the meetings I’ve attended, some the best talks were given by post-docs. They take the time to hone their talk and it shows, while faculty are more apt to scramble to finish their slides an hour before they step up to the lectern.

Read the whole post here: Calling attention to poor speaker gender ratio – even when it hurts

By giving a little more thought to participants and including more diverse speaker panels , organizations may increase the audience at their meetings and increase their membership! At the very least, they will gain increased scientific knowledge and perhaps call attention to inherent biases.

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