Daily Buzz: Taking a Stand on All-Male Speaking Panels

Want the director of the NIH to speak at your conference? Women better be included too. Also: Can associations cure loneliness?

“Manel” (noun): an all-male speaking panel that frequently occurs at scientific meetings.

See also: a concept the head of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a federal agency and the world’s largest public funder of biomedical research, will no longer take part in.

“It is time to end the tradition in science of all-male speaking panels, sometimes wryly referred to as ‘manels.’ Too often, women and members of other groups underrepresented in science are conspicuously missing in the marquee speaking slots at scientific meetings and other high-level conferences,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins in a June 12 press release.

“Starting now, when I consider speaking invitations, I will expect a level playing field, where scientists of all backgrounds are evaluated fairly for speaking opportunities. If that attention to inclusiveness is not evident in the agenda, I will decline to take part.”

With Collins taking on about 125 speaking engagements per year, many in the industry are eager that his stand brings a wave of change. Maryam Zaringhalam, a member of the leadership team at 500 Women Scientists, told The Washington Post that she hopes Collins’ message prompts other men to join the inclusivity conversation.

“Just to introduce this little bit of friction into the way we think of what an invitation means, and what it means to be included, is a very powerful message he’s sending,” she said.

How Associations Can Beat Loneliness

We all feel lonely sometimes. But for about 50 percent of Americans, those feelings are persistent, according to research from Cigna.

That’s where associations can step in.

“Associations are facilitators of human interaction and connection,” says the WBT Systems team on its blog. “You satisfy the very human need for belonging and offer an offline and online support system of peers and mentors.”

With opportunities to get involved in their communities, both personal and professional, and purpose-driven activities, associations can help alleviate feelings of being left out or alone.

“Focus your marketing on the impact of these social membership experiences,” the team says. “Show how membership and professional development can improve someone’s life by reducing social isolation and loneliness, and helping them develop new relationships and a greater purpose.”

Other Links of Note

Cultivating a passionate team? Don’t exploit its enthusiasm, or risk creating a siloed, ineffective culture, says the Bloomerang blog.

Conference food can make or break a meeting. The Eventbrite blog explains the do’s and don’ts of event catering.

It’s common for leaders to doubt their management abilities. These 10 traits can reveal their “toughness” in challenging situations, from Forbes.

(webphotographeer/E+/Getty Images Plus)

Jeff Hsin

By Jeff Hsin


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