The community protests gender discrimination at professional meetings
ICQC is a triannual flagship conference conducted under the auspices of
International Academy of Quantum Molecular Science.
The program of the 15th ICQC
published on the
conference website listed
24 invited speakers,
5 chairs and honorary chairs, and did not include a single woman
(as of 02/15/2014).
Feeling fed up and frustrated with these practices, we reached out to the
community and called for a boycott of the conference (read our
letter posted to the MDN mail list; the same letter was sent to CCL).
We set up
an electronic petition to collect the signatures. The response
from the community was overwhelming --- our letter gathered 300+
signatures in less than 24 hours; overall, 1,703 people signed the petition.
The petition is now closed, but you can read the comments
Our voice has been heard; the organizers replied with the following
letter to MDN. We will not comment
Our letter generated discussions in various mail lists and social media. We
thank everyone who raised their voices to support our cause. Here are selected
posts we would like to share:
Editorial in Nature Materials.
USC Dornsife article by Susan Bell.
On Sexism in Theoretical Chemistry blog by Daniel Sadowsky.
Daily Princetonian coverage by Elizabeth Paul.
Article in Science by Beryl Lieff Benderly.
CEN Blog by
Maureen Rouhi, CEN's Editor-in-chief, and the
Why Science is Sexist Blog by Nicola.
A blog by theoretical cosmologist, Prof. Richard Easther.
Inside Higher Ed article by Colleen Flaherty.
PZ Mayers blog.
Salon.com article by Aaron Kase.
ChemisrtyWorld article and interview with Laura Gagliardi by Maria Burke.
Nature News blog
posted by Elizabeth Gibney from Nature.
A blog entry by Prof. Christopher Cramer.
A post by Prof. Aurora Clark.
Blog by Sylvie Coyaund, a French journalist
living in Italy (in Italian).
Article by Deborah Dirani (in Italian).
Another write-up by Dirani (in Italian).
An article in La Repubblica (in Italian).
A blog of the Italian Chemical Society by Marco Taddia (in Italian).
China Science Dayily article (in Chinese).
How did the story develop?
The organizers removed the list of speakers from the website on Sunday, 02/16/2014. We also received
an official apology
from the IAQMS President, Prof. Josef Michl. On 02/25, the conference organizers
issued an official apology and posted it on the conference website.
If your browser does not show it, you can view it
They also amended the program. The new list of speakers was finalized
on 03/18; currently, it features 6 women, which exceeds historic average of
10% (10 women out of 102 lectures over the last 3 conferences).
We closed the petition on 03/18/2014.
Looking into the future, we feel strongly that gender discrimination at scientific conferences and within professional societies must stop. It is unacceptable to invite women as an afterthought, after "real speakers" are invited. Given the remarkable achievements of female scientists, this is unjustified.
We hope that by raising the awareness of this issue, we contribute
to changing the climate in our field.
Again, we thank everyone for their support.