Thursday, June 29, 2017

Congratulations! You have an all-male list of keynote speakers

 Like an occasional cold virus infection, every once in a while I come across an invitation to a meeting in my field that attempts to entice me to register with a list of all-male keynote speakers.

At this point I need a form letter to call on so that I can adjust it to fit the circumstances (all white? all-male? all _fill-in-the-absence-of-diversity_ ?)

And you, my blog reader, might find it helpful too.

Luckily others have helped clear the brush before me. Here are some resources to help.

Attached is a letter I wrote to a colleague today.
(a good colleague, too! someone I like both personally and scientifically.
I admit I find myself hoping I do not lose a friend with this letter.)

[PostScript--as I am writing this post I received a warm acknowledgement, response, and statement of intention to take action from Colleague. So balance has been restored.]

Please feel free to use the letter as a template. Also, please share more educational links & resources about the importance of diversity for keynotes, invited speakers, on panels, etc. I'll collect them here.

Hi Colleague,

You should know that an all-male keynote list at a conference sends a series of unfortunate messages—messages that might not be noticed by a man, but are heard loud and clear by many women.

Here are some examples of what I thought when I saw this list:

Science done by women is not viewed by the organizers as prestigious
The organizers did not put a great deal of thought into choosing their list of keynote speakers
The organizers do not value diversity in their conference
Women are not welcome

Here is an article in Science magazine that takes a look at this issue:

I hope you understand that I intend this email message not as a personal attack on you (by all means no!! I consider us friends and I don’t want that to change!) but that I think that if you are not aware of these issues, you should be.  You are in a position to help our mineral physics community be more inclusive—and therefore better.


Here is the heavily redacted version of the conference registration. reminder

Dear all,

This is a reminder that the Nth Annual Meeting of the Extreme Science Conference will be held soon.

Confirmed keynote speakers include
- Colleague who got a PhD the same year I did
- My Postdoctoral Advisor
- Senior Faculty Member at Institution Where I got my PhD
- Fellow Editor of Professional Journal
- Faculty Member from Country that is investing a lot of $ in Extreme Science
- Extreme Science Textbook Author (Book published in 1991)

with a number of other prestigious invited speakers. [sic]

Please register,


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