A couple of years ago I wrote a post about a lot of cryin’ on the part of senior male faculty about the rate at which their young female grad students were dropping out of science after finishing their Ph.D.s., coupled with an inability on the part of said faculty to educate themselves to recognize the reasons behind this phenomenon. In private, I did my best to provide the resources to these potential allies so that they might better understand this leaky pipeline… and on this blog, I implored said faculty to get off their asses and do something about that… think outside the box, become an ALLY. I offered a few suggestions, …. turns out you don’t even have to think very far outside the box.
This week I received an email from a colleague, it read:
I am organizing XYZ meeting, and I was wondering if you could help me out. I was looking over the schedules from previous XYZ meetings, and I was struck by the fact that the list of keynote speakers looked like this:
2008 Great Scientist, White Guy, Ph.D.
2007 Great Scientist, White Guy, Ph.D.
2006 Great Scientist, White Guy, Ph.D.
2005 Great Scientist, White Guy, Ph.D.
2004 Great Scientist, White Guy, Ph.D.
2003 Great Scientist, White Guy, Ph.D.
2002 Great Scientist, White Guy, Ph.D.
2001 Great Scientist, White Guy, Ph.D.
2000 Great Scientist, White Guy, Ph.D.
1999 Great Scientist, White Guy, Ph.D.
1998 Great Scientist, Woman, Ph.D.
1997 Great Scientist, White Guy, Ph.D.
1996 Great Scientist, White Guy, Ph.D.
I am sure you can appreciate the paucity of women and minority keynote speakers at past XYZ meetings, and that is so obviously wrong. I wonder if you could help me identify some great women and minority candidates who might be interested in giving the keynote talk at this meeting.
Thanks for all your help!
Senior Faculty Ally.
HOLY COW!! I couldn’t make up that list fast enough.
I’m totally thrilled that this colleague looked at the data, realized the overwhelming bias in favor of white guys (no offense to you white guys), thought about it, and took the next step to try to even out the balance. So, to add to my previous list of all the ways to encourage young women to stay in science… how about choosing EXCELLENT WOMEN SCIENTISTS and EXCELLENT MINORITY SCIENTISTS as your keynote speakers from time to time. And for all you women (and/or) minority scientists out there, how about making a mental or actual list of excellent women and/or minorities in your field that might be keynote speaker candidates… so that when an ally asks for your assistance, you are ready.