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This won't do - all-male conferences

I chaired a session at a conference yesterday, and unfortunately had to add these remarks to the traditional thanks and compliments to the organisers with which I opened the discussion:
There are 22 panellists and moderators for today's conference, and we are all men. I see only one woman in this room out of more than thirty people. This isn't good enough; in fact it is unacceptable. We are all here because we are experts on today's topic; we all know women who are engaged as deeply as we are with this particular issue; as it is, we are now supposed to have an in-depth discussion in which half of the population will not be represented adequately. I hope that the organisers and the funders will ensure that this never happens again. I will not participate in any future event where this is allowed to happen, and I hope that the rest of you here will commit to do the same.
The only detail I want to give about the event is that, ironically, one of the funders was the government of an EU member country which has a female head of state. (There are four of them - can you name them all?)

The organisers did say that they had originally had two women panellists scheduled (and I think that they must have been on the draft programme for the event that I was originally sent) but that they both pulled out for family reasons. They also said that they accepted my point (which is why my remarks were directed at least as much to the other men in the room).


Apr. 21st, 2013 09:23 pm (UTC)
Re: A question?
I don't think one can quantify that, and I don't understand why it is a useful question to ask.

The point is that there are plenty of women with a good knowledge of this topic, and none of them were named speakers at the conference (and only one was even in the room, at least for my session). The role of such an event is not to represent precisely the geographical and gender spread of expertise, it is to ensure a sufficiently diverse panel of experts to drive an interesting discussion.

Perhaps it may answer your question, if indirectly, to say that 0/22 (or one out of thirty-plus) is not an accurate representation of the gender spread of expertise on this subject. But I don't think one could tie down the numbers much more than that, and I also don't think it is worth trying to do so.

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