Developing UBC guidelines to increase diversity in conference panels and keynote speakers

October 05, 2020

We invite UBCV and UBCO faculty members, post-doctoral fellows and graduate students to join a small committee to develop guidelines and best practices related to conferences organized by UBC community members.

There has been increasing concern about the lack of diverse representation among invited and keynote speakers and panelists at conferences and meetings. While in principle it is accepted by many that diversity enhances quality and innovation, contributions from historically, persistently, or systemically marginalized groups are often discounted or ignored. The result is that these groups are often underrepresented at conferences.

Two of the key goals of UBC’s Inclusion Action Plan are Systems Change and Accountability. In order to actively address these goals, the Provost’s office is developing guidelines and best practices for action. We would like to develop a UBC-wide set of guidelines for use by all members of the UBC community, in order to increase diversity in conference panelists and speakers. These guidelines will in no way infringe upon the academic freedom of those organizing the conferences. We are aiming for several meetings to discuss the focus and guidelines with a draft ready for distribution and comments by Dec.15, 2020.

We are requesting participation from those at UBCV and UBCO interested in addressing this issue. Please send an email by Oct. 15, 2020 to Naznin Virji-Babul, Senior Advisor to the Provost on Women and Gender-Diverse Faculty, UBCV, to indicate your interest in participating in this initiative.

With best wishes,

Naznin Virji-Babul, Associate Professor, Dept of Physical Therapy, Faculty of Medicine
Asmin Chen, Project Manager, Equity and Inclusion Office
Greg Martin, Professor, Dept of Mathematics

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