On the international and regional levels, however, the diffusion of the disciplinary association based on identity has been slow. Just as the U.S.-based organizations mentioned, above were grounded in identity movements in which women and minority scientists felt marginalized within their fields, some of the international women’s organizations have their roots in the struggles against Western-dominated organizations. Examples of international women’s science efforts include:
• International Network of Women Scientists and Engineers/International Conference of Women Engineers and Scientists (ICWES). First ICWES conference: 1964, organized by the U.S. Society of Women Engineers
• Gender and Science and Technology (1981)
• Third World Organization of Women in Science, now the Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (1989)
• The Center for Arab Women for Training and Research (1993)
• Gender Advisory Board (1995)
• InterAcademy Council on Women in Science (2004)
• European Platform for Women in Science (2005)
Each of these organizations features meetings or conferences and multinational governing bodies. Beyond these mechanisms, associations seem to vary greatly in structure, form, web presence, and the like. Connections among these organizations and with U.S. disciplinary associations will be explored in more detail in future work.
Preliminary research about the role of U.S. disciplinary societies in increasing diversity in science and engineering was completed in 2008. The Commission on Professionals in Science and Technology (CPST), in partnership with the Association for Women in Science (AWIS), conducted a workshop for representatives from 24 disciplinary societies.2 Attendees were from many types of associations and were involved in diversity efforts in different ways. In some cases, the attendees were from organizations like the Society of Women Engineers, in other cases they were from committees within a larger disciplinary association, such as the Women in Engineering Committee of the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Prior to the workshop, an online survey was distributed to 120 people identified by AWIS and CPST as involved in efforts related to women, minorities, diversity, or some combination thereof to better understand the resources allocated to these efforts and the strategies used within disciplinary associations. With a 58 percent response rate, the findings are not considered capable of generalization but were a useful starting point, with results presented to the workshop attendees. Presentations were also made by several invitees, with all attendees informally sharing their work. Small group discussions and a final plenary discussion resulted in the following list of recommendations to U.S. disciplinary organizations:
• Measure and assess the effectiveness of the society’s current internal diversity efforts (e.g., staff, volunteers, and membership)
Evaluate successes using goals and objectives
Pinpoint areas for improvement
2 The Commission on Professionals in Science and Technology, “Recommendations from a Workshop: Professional Societies and Increasing Diversity in STEM,” Boston, MA, February 14, 2008.