EXPERIMENTS AND STRATEGIES

BOX 4-1

Speaker Representation at Scientific and Professional Society Meetings

The invitation to speak at a professional or academic society conference is one of the key benchmarks of a successful academic career. To ensure the proper recognition and advancement of women scholars in science and engineering, it is essential that the process for inviting conference speakers be absent of gender bias. Invited and distinguished conference speakers are usually selected by program committees and the speaker nomination process often fails to ensure adequate gender representation. Program committees lacking gender diversity tend to result in a lack of diversity among invited speakers.a The common practice of program committee members nominating themselves as invited speakers augments this effect.b

Table B4-1 presents data on the percentage of invited speakers to speak at prestigious symposiac at professional and scientific society conferences who were women in a number of disciplines. It has proven challenging to ensure that speakers at society-sponsored events reflect the diverse membership of the society with respect to appropriate representation by gender.

TABLE B4-1 Speakers at 2004-2005 Scientific and Professional Society Meetings, by Sex

Conference (2004-2005)d

% of Invited Speakers Who Were Women

Total Number of Invited Speakers

American Association for Artificial Intelligence (AAAI)

17

12

American Chemical Society (ACS)

18

174

American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB)

36

22

American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)e

6

17

International Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniquesf

17

78

Oceanic Engineering Society Meetingg

4

72

Federation of Clinical Immunological Societies (FOCIS)h

22

480

Society for Neuroscience (SFN)

9

11

SOURCES: www.aaai.org, www.acs.org, www.ascb.org, www.siggraph.org, www.ieee.org, www.focisnet.org, www.sfn.org.

Some societies have implemented speaker selection criteria to mandate that those who propose symposia specifically consider diversity of suggested speakers. At the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) 45th Annual Meeting, 36% of the invited speakers were women, which is an appropriate reflection of the nearly



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