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Updated for 2020: 40+ Resources to Promote Speaker Diversity in STEM Fields

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[Resources updated July, 2020]

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 STEMM (science, technology, engineering, math, and medicine) 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 in STEMM 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 Let’s hope this list – and these issues – seem quaint and out-of-date in the near future.

Speaker Resources (Listed alphabetically)

  • AcademiaNet (Established by The Robert Bosch Stiftung and Spektrum der Wissenschaft, the Swiss National Science Foundation SNSF took over management in 2020)
    “A database of profiles of more than 2,800 female researchers from all parts of Europe, and beyond. Rigorous selection criteria include outstanding scientific qualifications, academic credentials and independent leadership activities.”
  • Databases of Databases of Diverse Speakers in STEM  (2018 Georgia Tech Diversity & Inclusion Fellow project)
    “A web resource where conference, workshop, and panel organizers can locate diverse STEM experts to speak at their event.”  Extensive Google Doc of databases and resources.
  • Directory of Women in Machine Learning
    A directory to look for invited speakers, area chairs, conference committee members, etc. (self-nominated directory)
  • Diversity Database – Women 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.” The site offers a range of resources that promote diversity and inclusion.
  • 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.”
  • Folks in GCB (Genomics, Computational biology, and Bioinformatics)
    “A self-nomination list for individuals from groups that are underrepresented in genomics, computational biology, and bioinformatics. (e.g., women, racial or ethnic minorities, members of the LGBTQ+ community, veterans, among others.”
  • Request a Woman in STEMM (500 Women Scientists)
    “A resource for journalists, educators, policy makers, scientists, and anyone needing scientific expertise.” Global vetted expertise that ranges from algebra to zoology.
  • Speakers Directory, ChemDiversity (American Chemical Society Committee on Minority Affairs)
    Names, contact information, and expertise of chemists who are willing to give talks on a variety of topics.
  • Speakers List, Diversify STEM Conferences
    “A list of prominent underrepresented minority scientists across every field of STEM.”
  • Superstars of STEM (Science & Technology Australia)
    Australian women employed in a range of roles in STEM who are highly visible public role models.
  • Women in Biology Speakers List (ASCB and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory)
    Created to give more women a voice at scientific conferences and in the media, specifically on topics related to biomedical and biological research.
  • Women in BrainStim
    “The database can be used to help conference organizers, journal editors, universities and other institutions to identify appropriately qualified female scientists to speak at conferences, join editorial boards, participate in advisory groups and on committees.”
  • Women in Cell Biology (WICB) Speaker Referral List (American Society for Cell Biology, ASCB)
    “An extensive list of speakers, categorized by research area, who have won major awards, given Symposium talks at ASCB meetings or who have organized Minisymposia in their respective research areas.”
  • Women In Neuroscience
    “The aim of the … Repository is to help you identify and recommend female neuroscientists for conferences, symposia or collaborations.”
  • 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 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 include cloud computing, cybersecurity, enterprise systems, entrepreneurship, the Internet of Things, and technology policy.

Professional Speaker Bureaus

More Resources

Even more resources

Some of the many scientific journal articles on speaker diversity in STEM (most recent first)

Photo by Kane Reinholdtsen on Unsplash (cropped slightly)

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