There has been a lot of discussion over the last few year about the lack of equity, diversity and inclusivity (EDI) in scientific conferences. Conferences also need to be free of harassment and other forms of intimidation and some organizers now have clearly stated codes of conduct. This publication in Frontiers in Marine Science, “Your Science Conference Should have a Code of Conduct” by Favaro et al. (2016) is an excellent resource. The Ecological Society of America has a well defined code of conduct for meetings which could form a template for Canadian organizations seeking to develop their own policies. However, enforcement and consequences for individuals breaking those codes remain somewhat variable.
There has been relatively little reference of these issues to conferences in Canada although there is evidence that similar challenges exist but have not been reported. I have received annecdotal reports from a number of indivduals about experiences and concerns at conferences held in Canada.
It is not hard to ensure EDI in STEM-related conferences. All that is required is that conference organizers be educated on EDI issues and be thoughtful, intentional and aware of how to implement EDI principles. Here are another excellent resource that can help conference organizers to ensure EDI at their event.