<![CDATA[Two recent stories about efforts to achieve gender equity provide encouragement about what’s possible and some useful lessons about how to get there. Here are the two cases, one from science and the other from technology. The Microbiologists Women have been underrepresented as speakers and presenters at scholarly meetings for many years, but one group, the American Society for Microbiology, found a way to achieve gender parity in three short years. Between 2012 and 2015, the percentage of presentations by female scholars went from 25.9 percent to 48.5 percent—almost parity. Why is it important that women scientists have equal visibility at professional meetings?
- Women now constitute a majority of the students and postdocs in microbiology and represent the future of the field. A message of “no glass ceiling” is important to keep them engaged and to ensure their talents are fully recognized and utilized.
- Being a speaker or presenter at a professional meeting impacts career advancement. Invitations to speak at major professional meetings are used by faculty promotion and tenure committees as evidence of external recognition and are critical to advancement decisions.
- The program committee studied historical data to learn about the gender gap among speakers.
- More women were recruited as conveners, or organizers, of presentation panels. These panels usually include several presenters who take turns giving talks on related topics. The female conveners invited more women to present research papers than had occurred in the past.
- Conveners were urged to avoid creating all-male panels. This was not an absolute requirement, but the intention to include more women resulted in a drop to 4.1 percent of the panels being all-male in 2015, down from 35.7 percent in 2011.
- He set goals to achieve 100 percent gender equality for pay and promotion in his company.
- He started what he called Women’s Surge in 2013 where he asked managers across the company to identify their top executives for advanced leadership training. If they sent him lists that were mostly men, he sent the lists back and asked for more diverse lists. Promotions of women started to climb.
- Two of the women promoted during the “surge” decided to leverage their new positions to help other women. They went together to the CEO and told him they felt certain that women were being paid less than men for the same work in the company. He was shocked but commissioned a salary review that proved them right. Salary adjustments have begun.
- Women need to join forces and push for change.
- The gender pay gap is usually invisible, which helps perpetuate the gap. Organizations need to regularly conduct salary reviews and make adjustments. Scrutiny and transparency about salaries are critical to closing the gaps.
- Efforts to promote equality must be intentional and consistent:
- Set goals (not quotas).
- Hold managers and conveners accountable for promoting and including women in visible roles.
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