How many times have you attended a conference and noticed that the panels and keynote speakers were a fairly homogeneous crew that didn’t represent the diversity of the audience?
This happens much more frequently than it should these days. One of the most noted imbalances is when meetings feature only men behind the microphones. This has led to the creation of terms such as “manels” (all male panels); Female Conference Speaker Bingo (“a bingo card full of excuses for not having more female speakers at STEM conferences”), and the “Congrats, you have an all male panel!” Tumblr page.
Scientific articles have quantified speaker imbalances across STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) disciplines with tables and bar charts and scatter plots. While the numbers show that progress is being made, they also show there’s still a long way to go.
Imbalances in speaker diversity stifle advancement in our fields. Limited representation results in limited viewpoints and perspectives. It mutes creativity, innovation and growth.
Promoting a broad range of voices that are diverse in gender, ethnicity, experiences, expertise, and approaches strengthens our future. Diverse voices at lecterns provide diverse role models for the next generation of scientists. Diversity provides richer networking and collaborations, advancing everyone’s careers fairly, along with advancing our fields.
This list of resources features a wide range of experts in STEM fields. It is designed to assist conference organizers in promoting more diversity across panels, keynote speakers, boards, committees and collaborators, and to help journalists identify new subject matter experts. Some of the databases have extensive vetting criteria and include Nobel Laureates. Some lists include self-nominated experts.
Feel free to copy, share, and spread these lists far and wide. Please share resources that have been overlooked. Let’s hope this list – and these issues – seem quaint and out-of-date in the near future.
- AcademiaNet, established by The Robert Bosch Stiftung and Spektrum der Wissenschaft
“A database of profiles of more than 2700 female researchers from all parts of Europe, and beyond. Selection criteria include scientific qualifications, academic credentials and independent leadership activities.”
- Expert Women in Life Sciences (WILS), EMBO
“The database aims to help scientists, universities, research institutions, political institutions, conference organizers and journal editors to identify appropriately qualified women scientists: as candidates for professorships and other positions; to speak at conferences and in seminar programmes; to participate in advisory groups, on monitoring panels, committees and commissions; to review manuscripts, to write commissioned reviews and to serve on the editorial boards of journals.”
- Request a Woman Scientist, 500 Women Scientists
“A resource for journalists, educators, policy makers, scientists, and anyone needing scientific expertise.” Global expertise that ranges from algebra to zoology.
- Women in Cell Biology (WICB) Speaker Referral List, American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB)
“An extensive list of speakers who have won major awards, given Symposium talks at ASCB meetings or who have organized Minisymposia in their respective research areas. … Alternatively, conference organizers need only provide a brief description of the planned conference/symposium/lecture series/review panel. Within three days, WICB will respond with names of women who are vetted speakers and trusted colleagues in that research area. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org, Subject: Speaker Referral
- Women Speakers List and Minority Speakers List, American Physical Society (APS)
“Names, contact information, and talk titles of physicists who are willing to give talks on a variety of subjects. ‘Minorities in physics’ refers to Hispanic American, African American, and Native American Speakers.”
- Women Speakers in Engineering Biology, Engineering Biology Research Consortium (EBRC)
“EBRC encourages organizers of scientific meetings, scientific review panels, and university symposia/lecture series to have a balanced representation of women and men.”
- Women in Technology Speakers Bureau, Women in Technology (WIT)
“(WIT) speakers are experts in their fields and can offer informative and timely presentations on a wide range of topics. We welcome requests for specific speakers, or we can help you identify a speaker who would be a good match for your organization.” Topics range from cloud computing and cybersecurity to technology policy.
Professional Speaker Bureaus
- Female Pioneers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, All American Entertainment (AAE) Speakers
- STEM, Great Black Speakers
- STEM Speakers, Lavin Agency
- 21 Technical Women Speakers for your Next Conference, or Manel! – Angie Chang, Girl Geek X
- A List of Female Technology Policy Experts – Susan Hennessey, Lawfare
“A list of female experts to talk to when assembling panels, researching, or reporting on issues at intersections of technology, the law, privacy, civil liberties, and national security. … In order to be fully inclusive and reflective of the community, this list also includes technology policy experts who identify as genderqueer, non-binary, or otherwise.”
“Highlighting female systems neuroscientists … You can nominate yourself or a colleague.”
- Here are 588 women in the UK who could speak at your tech event – Charlotte Jee, Techworld
“This is just a tiny sample of the thousands of women working in tech in the UK, including startup founders, vendor executives, CIOs, security experts, developers, technologists, lawyers and academics.”
- Innovation Women
“An online speakers bureau for entrepreneurial and technical women.”
- Think there aren’t qualified women in tech? Here are 1,000 names. No more excuses. – Melanie Ehrenkranz
- Women Tech Speakers & Organizers – Fempire on GitHub
A list of women tech speakers & organizers. “Add yourself or others”
Even more resources
- Bringing STEM Guest Speakers into the Classroom – Amber Osuba, EVERFI, Inc.
“At GlamSci, we are dedicated to helping disadvantaged men and women into careers and education in STEM. GlamSci’s vision is to take STEM out of the classroom scenario, putting it back into the local community, giving people the reins to control their own educational journey by guiding them through STEM education, building trust and confidence, and get them involved in the world of endless possibilities that a career in STEM promises.”
- Million Women Mentors
“A movement to spark the interest and confidence of girls and women to pursue and succeed in STEM careers and leadership opportunities through the power of mentoring.”
- Skype a Scientist
We match scientists with classrooms and groups of adults for Q&A sessions over video chat!
- Ten Simple Rules to Achieve Conference Speaker Gender Balance – Martin JL (2014) PLoS Comput Biol 10(11): e1003903.
- Women in STEM Resources
A repository of peer-reviewed research and resources discussing the challenges facing white women and men and women of color in science.
Some of the many scientific journal articles on speaker diversity in STEM (most recent first)
- Gender disparities in colloquium speakers at top universities. Nittrouer CL, Hebl MR, Ashburn-Nardo L, Trump-Steele RCE, Lane DM, Valian V. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 115(1):104-108, 2018.
- Gender inequity in speaking opportunities at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting. Ford HL, Brick C, Blaufuss K, Dekens PS. Nat Commun. 9(1):1358, 2018.
- Gender equity at scientific events. Débarre F, Rode NO, Ugelvig LV. Evol Lett. 21;2(3):148-158, 2018.
- Progress and Prospects in Gender Visibility at SMBE Annual Meetings. Käfer J, Betancourt A, Villain AS, Fernandez M, Vignal C, Marais GAB, Tenaillon MI. Genome Biol Evol. 10(3):901-908, 2018.
- Gender parity trends for invited speakers at four prominent virology conference series. Kalejta RF, Palmenberg AC. J Virol 91:e00739-17, 2017.
- Representation of women among academic grand rounds speakers. Boiko JR, Anderson AJM, Gordon RA. JAMA Intern Med. 177(5):722-724, 2017.
- Not “Pulling up the Ladder”: Women who organize conference symposia provide greater opportunities for women to speak at conservation conferences. Sardelis S, Drew JA. PLoS One. 11(7):e0160015, 2016.
- Hot topics, urgent priorities, and ensuring success for racial/ethnic minority young investigators in academic pediatrics. Flores G, Mendoza FS, Fuentes-Afflick E, Mendoza JA, Pachter L, Espinoza J, Fernandez CR, Arnold DD, Brown NM, Gonzalez KM, Lopez C, Owen MC, Parks KM, Reynolds KL, Russell CJ. Int J Equity Health. 15(1):201, 2016.
- Countering gender bias at conferences. Arnold, C., Science, Jul. 29, 2015
Photo by Kane Reinholdtsen on Unsplash (cropped slightly)