conferences

Caroline J. Walker walkerc at CLEMSON.EDU
Fri Apr 3 14:22:20 EST 1998


...this is attempt #4 to send this message....



I was reading the article on "Women Scientists stress need for visibility
at conferences" in The Scientist (link from Web page
http://flosun.salk.edu/~forsburg/bio.html) and these issues hit close to
home.  Three years ago, a major conference in my field was organised in
Germany - to my horror, when I saw the program there were only 2 women
speakers scheduled over the 5 days.  At the previous conference in this
series, this number was nearer 10.  Since this was a preliminary schedule,
I sent a polite note to the organisers suggesting that they might think
about including more women, and listed several people that they might
contact.  Unfortunatley, I did not recieve a reply and the conference went
on pretty much as scheduled.  Undaunted, I then wrote to one of the EEC
representatives who was involved with funding for these conferences,
suggesting that they implement a policy requiring that the organizers make
it clear how many women are speaking and perhaps set minimum targets.
Again I recieved no reply.  So I must admit that I felt very disheartened
at my attempts to try and do something for the general good.  At the next
conference in the series last year women were again pretty thin on the
ground.
>	These problems aside, I think that it is very difficult for new
>researchers to make their presence felt at conferences, maybe more so for
>women.  My first conference as a grad student I slaved over making my
>poster beautiful and not one person came to talk to me (they found my
>advisor and talked to him)!  I was also way too scared to stand up and ask
>any questions!  The next conference (as a postdoc) was one of these huge
>meetings with several thousand people.  This time I got sick of people
>approaching me - in fact they were all men, who would basically pass me
>their business card and room number.  My two room mates and I ended up
>with a pretty big stack of cards in our room (must be the anonymity
>thing).  This time I came away with a very deflated opinion of how
>seriously I was being taken as a scientist.  HOWEVER, at this conference
>you could volunteer to give mini talks (lots of multiple sessions), and
>this did increase my visilibility in the field.
>	Anyway, now I enjoy conferences, occasionally speak,  know a lot of
>people and get a lot of information/collaborations out of them...but still
>get annoyed at the lack of women speakers.....!






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