In February of this year the STEMM Role Models team (Kirstie, Amy, Erin and Elizabeth) won the runners up prize in the Rosalind Franklin appathon, a national competition to find the best ideas to harness the power of mobile technology to support women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths and Medicine.
We sought to tackle the problem that women are less likely to be invited to speak at conferences, even when you take into account their lower representation in senior positions as a whole. We know the confidence that young researchers build when they see people "just like them" in leadership roles and we know that increasing diversity can inspire the most creative ideas across all fields of STEMM and at every step along the academic career trajectory.
We proposed a database that conference organisers could use to widen their reach when considering which researchers to invite to speak or to sit on panels. Each profile contains information about the researcher's skills, publications, previous speaking engagements etc, as well as their membership of some of the typically under-represented groups in leadership positions in STEMM: women, people of colour/black minority ethnic, people with a disability, LGBTQ and parent or carer.
Two important aspects set the STEMM Role Models project apart from current tools (such as google!) that can be used to create speaker lists 1) members of the database can be recommended by anyone (department administrators, prinicipal investigators, funding agencies) thus minimizing the effect of the imposter complex that causes women to promote themselves less than men, and 2) we will curate testimonials from members of the community who have seen the women speak to facilitate conference organisers to build the very best program they can.
We are also dedicated to open source development and providing opportunities for women and other under-represented groups to build their confidence working in an online collaborative environment. We welcome anyone of any level of experience and at any career stage (including our friends outside the ivory tower of academia!) to join us in our adventure to build the website and assocated mobile app.
Help with layout, content (text, images) and spelling mistakes all welcome! We'd love to hear your feedback.
Please contact us for more information on how to get involved.