Why do less women than men get or take the prestigious speaking slots at conferences? What are the effects on their visibility and consequently their networking activities?
We asked these and other questions in our recent Chemistry World article. In brief, we concluded that gender-specific communication differences might deter women from raising their hand for speaking slots if the prize at hand is a monologue without interaction. Quotas and other attempts at levelling the playing field thus force women into communication situations that don´t make best use of their strengths.
In our article, we propose using conference formats like round table discussions in order to enhance scientific exchange and to foster networking and collaboration. Small discussions will be led by a speaker, most of the time will be used for questions and discussions.
Writing an opinion piece is one thing, but this time we were just too curious to see if our ideas work. Therefore we hired Peter Kronenberg as manager for this conference project, in which we we are looking to do two things: We want to test out new communication formats at science conferences, and, at the same time, evaluate the formats’ success and applicability in an empirical study. For this, we are currently looking for partners: on the one hand, we want to get in touch with academics from sociology and gender studies, who are interested in the dataset we´ll be generating. On the other hand, we need conference organisers, who are happy to try out the new formats in the planning and the execution of upcoming conferences with us and who see the upsides of being a trailblazer organisation.