All you need to know about Diversify STEM Conferences

Interview with Ann Palladino – President & Founder

Diversify Stem Conferences (DSC) was founded to address issues of underrepresentation in STEM, with a specific focus on scientists who identify as being underrepresented because of their race and/or ethnicity.  Conferences are vital in advancing STEM careers and are crucial times for networking, collaboration, and career advancement. DSC partners with platforms like Goodera and works towards ending disparities in STEM. They do this by providing conference organizers with the resources to create more inclusive and diverse events, including their Speakers List which highlights the wonderful work that researchers are doing across STEM fields. Read on to know more about this organization.

What is Diversify STEM Conferences?

Diversify STEM Conferences (DSC) was created to address the broader issue of representation in STEM by focusing specifically on the diversity of speakers invited to give talks at conferences. I founded this organization while working my first job as a research technician. It was during this time that I realized how pervasive inequity and prejudice were in STEM. Although progress has been made in some fields, many fields show stagnation or even decline in representation. Many systemic biases push outstanding researchers to leave the field. I founded DSC because I believe that these practices are unacceptable, and we all must play a part in their eradication.

How the COVID-19 crisis has changed things, prompting the leadership adapted to the new normal

Covid-19 has changed the way the world works. Fortunately, the work that DSC does was designed to be completely remote, so the transition during COVID-19 quarantine was seamless. Our leadership team has focused on offering support to researchers during this difficult time and on making improvements to our online platforms.

Our most significant challenges and areas where we need support

Our biggest challenge currently is keeping up with the nominations of underrepresented scientists for our Speakers List. This is a list of talented, underrepresented researchers who are available to give talks at scientific conferences. We could use more support from volunteers in this area. The volunteers can help write up descriptions for the scientists’ profiles and reach out to the scientists who have been nominated.

Longer-term volunteer activities that we need help with include grant writing, website development, social media management, and more. We could use more help from volunteers in these areas as well.

Engaging with our beneficiaries during this pandemic

We email our researchers directly and have always been fortunate to have a one-on-one relationship with them. We are also active on Twitter and try to use this platform to engage with other scientists who are passionate about diversity, equity and inclusion work.

Our framework for working with volunteers to help us achieve our vision

We first schedule a one-on-one call with each volunteer to get to know their goals as well as to share a bit more about DSC. Volunteers who choose to write descriptions for our nominees will then be free to do so at their own pace/timeframe (we check in about once a month and the time commitment is flexible). We schedule more frequent meetings with volunteers who want to get more involved and try to work with volunteers to help them achieve their own goals. For example, volunteers interested in learning to code can help with website improvement while those interested in developing management skills can focus more on the logistical side of DSC. We are a small organization with a lot of room for growth and opportunities to fit any interest!

How partnering with Goodera has helped our mission

Goodera and their volunteers have been immensely helpful! Our Goodera representatives are responsive and are always trying to support our mission. Meanwhile, our volunteers have been passionate, hard-working and are incredibly fantastic to work with. We are excited to have built up this community and look forward to continuing our work with Goodera!

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