Sample letter to organizers encouraging balanced female representation
Dear [Conference/Workshop/Symposia Organizers]:
First, let me say that my colleagues and I very much look forward to your upcoming event.
That said, we noticed a low number of women speakers -- something like [X out of XX]. We have found that the low number of women speaking at such high profile events discourages their continued involvement in science and engineering. This is a problem that has been going on non-stop for many years unfortunately (see letter to Nature below).
Organizers of scientific meetings, scientific review panels, and university symposia/lecture series are increasingly aware that a balanced gender representation at the podium or in the review process makes for a better and more interesting outcome (see Scientific American blog below).
If you are interested in effecting change in this area, I or my colleagues at the Engineering Biology Research Consortium, or EBRC (firstname.lastname@example.org, cc’d here) would be happy to make some recommendations. You can also refer to our list of suggested women speakers in engineering biology fields to find some suggestions for female speakers in synthetic biology related fields.
Additionally, these resources offer specific actions that you can take to make your event more inclusive, e.g. ensure women's restrooms are accessible, offer child care, make travel funds available to women/URM speakers, and discourage an inappropriately sexualized environment:
Here are some additional references and resources you might wish to consult:
- Diversity and Inclusion at EBRC
- Silver letter to Nature: Why do so few women speak at science meetings?
- Scientific American blog: Diversity correlates with success
- NY Times: Why Are There Still So Few Women in Science?
- Nature special issue: Women in Science
- ASCB Women in Cell Biology Program