By Roberta Rincón, Ph.D., Manager of Research, SWE
November 16, 2017
I want to share with you the amazing experience I had in Montreal earlier this month during Gender Summit North American 2017. With over 600 participants, it was a wonderful opportunity to learn how other countries are applying gender equality in research and innovation efforts. Members from industry, academia, research organizations, and education came together to listen to panel presenters and keynote speakers share their expertise and lessons learned on issues of diversity and inclusion.
SWE had the opportunity to share our research study on gender bias in the engineering workplace through a poster session, which garnered a number of inquiries and interest from a variety of people.
Some highlights from the program included:
- A panel discussion on the challenges faced by LGBTQ2 communities (where 2 refers to two-spirited people), particularly due to the fact that much of their experiences are unknown because we lack the data necessary to understand the discrimination and harassment they encounter.
- A panel discussion on the perspectives on gender equity and diversity within the industrial sector, where industry representatives made the case for creating a more diverse and inclusive workforce. Executives from various Canadian companies noted the importance of making goals public and having diversity objectives set by company leadership: “What doesn’t get measured, doesn’t get done.”
- A panel discussion focused on intersectionality included speakers who shared their experiences in applying intersectional analysis to research policy development. Intersectionality acknowledges the impact of multiple factors on people’s experiences – gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, culture, education, age ability, sexual orientation, immigration status, language, geography, etc. Policy development should consider the different contexts in which we live while avoiding the risk of becoming “gender first” initiatives, which can make invisible the experiences based on other factors.
This is such a valuable conference, and the issue of intersectionality is one which truly resonates with the work that we are doing at SWE. Inclusivity was a major focus of the conference, with speakers explaining that the research supports the economic impact of diversity and inclusion as a way to encourage attention to the matter.
The Gender Summit occurs a few times a year around the world, and though it always focuses on the issue of gender equity in research, there is a regional slant. Gender Summit 12 is scheduled in Santiago, Chile in December 2017 – the first one to be held in the Latin American region.
The International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) is live streaming Insights to Action: Filling the Data Gap on Sexual & Gender Minorities. The event is Tuesday, November 21, 2017 at 12:00 pm ET in Washington, DC. Register for the livestream here. Register to attend in person here.