By Simon Hettrick, Deputy Director.
I’ve attended a lot of events during my time in academia, but I can think of only one where women outnumbered men (one of the BSA’s Science Communication Conferences). This is not a revelation, of course. It's well known that women are poorly represented at events: as keynote speakers, on expert panels, or just as attendees in general. When I've discussed this issue in the past, I've often been asked "How many women do you expect to see?". It’s a practical question, but not one I've yet seen answered.
Should the first target for an academic event be to simply mirror the population within the event's discipline? I’ve written this blog post with this principle in mind, but also to start a discussion about whether this is indeed a helpful target. It occurs to me that people must have already tried this, so I'd also welcome any data on these attempts and whether they successfully improved representation.
We're looking for equality of opportunity throughout academia, but this is a distant proposition in some disciplines. If we aim for representation as a first step, we provide a target that's easy to measure and possible to achieve. If an organiser can prove success at this first target - in other words, that they are representing the gender split in their community - it would help…Continue Reading