Inclusive Conferences Working Group
The ROOT & SHOOT RCN has formed a Working Group to generate an RCN-wide system that develops and implements practices and policies that promote a safe and inclusive conference environment.
Acknowledging a history of inequitable practices at such gatherings, the Working Group’s effort will intentionally focus on increasing the representation of marginalized groups (e.g., based on gender identity, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, disability, immigration status) to address this history and more accurately reflect the diversity in our organizations. Given the critical role of conference participation for the success of individuals in the scientific research ecosystem, the effort will constitute an important step in achieving equity in the plant sciences.
This Working Group is made up of a diverse set of volunteers from across the RCN-participating societies, including early career researchers (e.g., graduate students and postdoctoral researchers). Together, this Working Group will center equity and care for others in its efforts to enable a powerful shift in the safety and inclusiveness of our conferences.
The Inclusive Conferences Working Group is composed of 25 participants:
- 12 Graduate Students, Postdoctoral or Research Associates;
- 8 Assistant Professors, Associate Professors, or Academic Advisors;
- 2 Full Professors; and
- 3 Non-Academic PI, Non-PI Government or Industry or Society).
There are also 4 Steering Committee members serving as facilitators (John Fowler, Roger Innes, Leslie Holland, Marcia Puig-Lluch).
This Working Group will have as its charge to generate recommendations, codes, and guidelines relevant to this goal for all seven societies. Five “subcommittees” were formed to accomplish these tasks, and they are:
- An RCN-wide Community Agreement for conferences and participants, outlining principles and standards that support equity and inclusiveness
- A reporting structure that ensures accountability and compliance with the Community Agreement
- Recommendations for a transparent site selection process that incorporates considerations regarding safety and inclusion of all potential attendees
- Guidelines for practices that improve conference accessibility, including for those with disabilities and young families
- Guidelines for inclusive selection of speakers and equitable programming
Each subcommittee is comprised of 5 Working Group members. Subcommittees will meet regularly, with the Working Group as a whole meeting in August, October, and November.
Working Group activity will encompass a full year, with the initial goal of completing the above tasks in time for implementation during the 2023 conference year. The deadline for each subcommittee to produce a proposal to be taken to the Board of each organization is December 1.
In addition to the primary tasks above, the Working Group will document its processes and rationale, culminating in a final report to the plant science community and submitted for publication in an appropriate outlet.
The Working Group held its initial meeting on August 22, 2022. Steering Committee members provided background and rationale for the project, announced subcommittees, and provided next steps. The next Working Group meeting will be scheduled for early October.