The fraction of women in science falls at each increasing level of seniority (http://www.sciencegenderequity.org.au/gender-equity-in-stem/). This reduces the diversity of thought in our community. One way to address this issue is to think about gender balance when organising a workshop or conference. This gives much needed diversity to meetings as well as aiding the visibility of women, which is crucial for their ongoing careers and provides valuable role models for younger women.
We want to recognise organisers of workshops and conferences who address this issue. We note that some fields have a very low female ratio to draw from (e.g. engineering), so we do not automatically prescribe 50:50 ratios.
If a conference receives our endorsement they can add the following statement to their web page and emails: “This conference is endorsed by the ASA’s Inclusion Diversity and Equity in Astronomy (IDEA) Chapter”. To receive the endorsement, conference organisers, along with their LOC and SOC, will have to:
- Publicise a gender equity policy that captures how the organisers intend to put together the local and scientific organising committees (LOC, SOC) and the speaker program (e.g. http://cfao.ucolick.org/ao4elt4/policy.html).
- Publicise a Code of Conduct to encourage appropriate behaviour (e.g. http://asa.astronomy.org.au/code_of_conduct.php).
- Establish balanced LOCs and SOCs. No single gender should make up less than 30% of the committee.
- Publicise on conference webpages the gender fractions as they become available (i.e. LOC, SOC, invited speakers, talk applicants, awarded talks, session chairs) to ensure that e.g. the ratio of awarded talks reflects the ratio of talk applicants.
- Support primary caregivers where practical. Examples include a family room (allowing delegates with children to watch conference presentations via video), providing childcare support and finishing talks by 5pm to allow local attendees to maintain family responsibilities.
- Provide a short (less than 1 page) post-meeting report for the meeting to be added to the public list of endorsed meetings.
Conference organisers wishing to receive an endorsement from the ASA-IDEA Chapter should send a brief (1 page) outline addressing the points listed above to the Chair of the IDEA Steering Committee for review at any time, but ideally before advertising the meeting.
This policy has been influenced by Jennifer Martin, “Ten Simple Rules to Achieve Conference Speaker Gender Balance” (2014).