Sexism plagues major chemistry conference: Boycott emerges amid growing outrage

Written by: Lisa Stelzner

Primary Source: Daily Dose of Science Blog

A major theoretical chemistry conference released a speaker list that included 24 men but no women, which has caused outrage in the scientific community.  You may know that chemistry fields are underrepresented by women scientists, and this is definitely true in the academy that holds the conference – it has only 4 female members (out of 110).  This academy only elects new members by an internal vote (which most likely does not help to increase diversity within its ranks).  However, there is not a lack of female chemists outside of that academy who would be qualified to give a talk at the conference, as the Women in Theoretical Chemistry web-directory contains over 300 female scientists in academia, industry or research institutions. A boycott petition for the conference has already been circulating online.

I will leave you with what I think is a great quote by Aurora Clark, a chemistry professor with Washington State University.

“One of the beautiful things about conferences is that they provide a platform for showcasing a large group of people working on a problem. If you omit an entire population, then you not only hurt those you omit, but also yourself and your own opportunities to learn and develop a research program, not to mention recruiting new talent to our programs. What if the next Einstein is an undergrad working in your group and she decides she wants to go into Biology because she doesn’t see anyone that respects her ideas or believes in her potential?”

(And yes, I think there is a small diss on Biology here because it is one of a few scientific fields that has about equal (or more) females compared to males.)

http://www.salon.com/2014/02/20/sexism_plagues_major_chemistry_conference_boycott_emerges_amid_growing_outrage/

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Lisa Stelzner
I'm a plant biology PhD student studying monarch butterflies in Michigan, but I'm interested in lots of other types of science, too. I am interested in how breeding monarch butterflies choose their habitat based on floral species richness and abundance. Few studies have been conducted on optimal foraging theory when it involves an organism searching for two different kinds of resources, and butterflies are an ideal study system to investigate this, since many species are ovipositing specialists and only lay eggs on one species of hostplant, but are feeding generalists and nectar from a broad variety of flowering forbs.