- Strive for balanced meeting rosters: Try to recruit as representative a sample of speakers as possible.
- Encourage the representation of under-represented groups: Since base rates are themselves skewed due to myriad factors that hold women and minorities back in scientific fields, please consider a higher than representative ratio of females to males. Your conference is a vessel for scientific discourse, but also an educational tool. The younger generation (which is frequently more diverse than the faculty level) will be encouraged to remain in the field, and their own biases will be reduced, if they encounter many examples of successful females and underrepresented minorities in their field.
- “Share the wealth” of conference invitations: A few prominent female researchers get invited to many conferences (and as a result have to decline some invitations), while others are all but invisible. This is a vicious cycle as not inviting those researchers makes them even more invisible, and thus less likely to be invited in the future. Consider inviting researchers whose work is on-topic and has been recognized as scientifically sound, even at the expense of other well-known speakers. More new voices means more new ideas, and a thriving scientific field.
- Adopt a robust Code of Conduct for your meeting: A public statement setting the ground rules for your event is important for maintaining the comfort and safety of all participants. It helps to set the expectations for appropriate behaviour. Your Code of Conduct should specify what constitutes unacceptable behaviour, including zero-tolerance for abuse towards minorities, women, and differently abled participants at conferences, and clearly state how the regulations will be enforced, and what the procedure is for reporting an incident. Participants should agree to the Code of Conduct to complete their registration for the meeting. A good example can be found at confcodeofconduct.com.
- Use BWA as a resource: Other conferences in your subfield did well on balancing their speaker rosters? Contact them to find out how they did it, and whether they had others on their list of suggested speakers that could not make it to that conference but can possibly come to yours.
For more ideas about how to reduce implicit bias in your conference, have a look at these:
Sardelis S, Drew JA (2016) Not “Pulling up the Ladder”: Women Who Organize Conference Symposia Provide Greater Opportunities for Women to Speak at Conservation Conferences. PLOS ONE 11(7): e0160015. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0160015 http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article/citation?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0160015
Favaro, Brett, et al. (2016) Your Science Conference Should Have a Code of Conduct. Frontiers in Marine Science 3(103). http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fmars.2016.00103/full
Isbell LA, Young TP, Harcourt AH (2012) Stag Parties Linger: Continued Gender Bias in a Female-Rich Scientific Discipline. PLOS ONE 7(11): e49682. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0049682 http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0049682
From the Royal Society: A concise animated video explanation of unconscious bias, an article by Uta Frith on the perils of implicit/unconscious bias, and what we can do about it
Most of us are biased: Nature (2013) article by Jennifer Raymond with a list of actions that we can take to overcome our biases
• Conference diversity distribution calculator (try it!)
• Gender Avenger: powered by the idea that if enough of us point out the absence of women to enough people in charge, change will happen, and a new norm will emerge.
• Congrats, you have an all-male panel!