Ten Strategies to Reduce Gender Inequality at Scientific Conferences




Sardelis, Stephanie
Oester, Samantha
Liboiron, Max

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Frontiers in Marine Science


Conferences organized by professional societies provide scientists and professionals with an excellent opportunity to disseminate their work, network with like-minded researchers, and form collaborative relationships for future endeavors. However, these opportunities are rarely distributed equally between women and men in science. Addressing gender inequity should be a primary consideration for all societies hosting conferences. Yet, many STEM conferences are struggling with gender biases and the understanding that gender inequity also applies to non-binary gender and overlapping social identities. At the Society for Conservation Biology's 4th International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC4), “Promoting the Participation of Women at Science Conferences” was one of four focus groups of the Diversity Focus Group Series. This paper outlines 10 feasible intervention strategies delineated during the Women at Science Conferences focus group discussion as positive encouragement for professional societies to continue toward gender equity. The 10 interventions to reduce gender inequity at conferences include adopting community principles and a Code of Conduct, appointing a Safety Officer, requiring a registration honor system pledge and conduct surveys, offering a mentorship program, organizing focus groups, giving benefits for participating in diversity programming, assisting with child care, proffering travel grants, providing badges on lanyards, and randomizing the conference program. These strategies are intended to reduce participation barriers for women scientists at conferences, and range in the amount of planning they require to provide options for all societies regardless of their fiscal or labor capacity.