I had been thinking for a while that it would be useful if we created a space for people to talk about their efforts to improve gender equity at conferences– what worked, what didn’t, what would they do differently, etc. Then somebody wrote to FP because they were so impressed by the gender balance at a conference that Lewis Powell organised. So I asked him what he did. He thinks he didn’t do much, and that it may not even be worth our posting about his efforts. But I think it’s worth showing how easy it (sometimes) is. So here’s what Lewis says:
The short version is that I didn’t do very much to achieve the gender balance. I mean, I invited two women speakers, but that wasn’t part of a concerted effort to ensure gender balance (except in the counterfactual sense that if my initial list had been all men, I would have re-evaluated it in light of my commitment to the GCC). I blind-reviewed the abstracts, and had an explicit plan to re-evaluate those papers that almost made the cut, if it turned out that I had wound up accepting a group that was overwhelmingly male. But this turns out to be merely counterfactual as well, since the gender ratio of accepted papers was 3-3.
With inviting commentators, I was less concerned (since the balance of speakers was already 5 women to 4 men), but the recommendations I got and people I invited on the basis of recommendations wound up being majority women as well (4 women to 2 men).
So, it turned out that I didn’t wind up having to be especially active on the GCC front, and I still have 60% of the participants being women. The gender ratio among applicants was approximately 40% women to 60% men.”
So, readers: tell us your own tales! Do also tell us of difficulties. And a special plea to our readers: do remember the rules of this blog, and don’t assume that someone telling of difficulties is being disingenuous. It IS sometimes hard. In general, I’d appreciate it if comments could be confined to (a) anecdotes about organisation efforts one has oneself engaged in; and (b) suggestions about how problems could be fixed for the future. Let’s avoid second-guessing about past efforts.