I am a microbiologist by training, but I manage a portfolio of varied journals. The ones most relevant to this Community are npj Biofilms and Microbiomes, npj Clean Water, npj Science of Food, npj Systems Biology and Applications and npj Vaccines. Full list of my journals in my LinkedIn profile.
The conference organisers would like to thank Dr Rosewarne for pointing out the imbalance of women to men speakers posted on our recent program for the Nature Conference on Environmental Microbial Biofilms and Human Microbiomes: Drivers of Future Sustainability, held in Singapore in February this year. Indeed, we completely agree with the need for gender diversity on our conference program, and a balance that reflects, in this case, the equal contributions that women and men make to research in the microbiome field. We also recognize that the low ratio of women to men speakers does not adequately reflect the wider microbiome community. While not visible on the program, we did initially invite a number of qualified women presenters, who had to decline our invitation for various reasons. Additionally, several confirmed women presenters were not able to attend. We acknowledge that more could, and should, have been done to equalize this balance.
As regards the overall Nature Conference calendar of events, we have and are working with our conference partners and internal organizing committee members to achieve more balance on our programs. We are not always as successful as we would like to be at achieving these aims. As the conversations about important topics and who is best placed to present on them ensues, there is always a goal to invite recognized and insightful speakers and to achieve diversity on our programs. It's a delicate exercise, particularly so with some disciplines.
Moving forward, we are pleased to report that a working group is being convened to discuss and create a written policy to be shared with our organizing committees for events starting in 2018. Additionally, cost of travel to our events is an important issue related to invitation acceptance. We do currently offer our invited speakers travel support to ensure travel costs will not be a limiting factor. Our working group will also discuss other possible factors to further accommodate a diverse program and audience. Regardless, we aim to improve gender balance at our events. Once our internal policies are in draft, we will invite a few members of the scientific community to provide feedback toward creating a policy that is both progressive and achievable.
Organisers of Nature Conference on Environmental Microbial Biofilms and Human Microbiomes: Drivers of Future Sustainability
Nature Conferences global team
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