Nov 17, 2013

IMS Council votes on equal opportunity for IMS Special Invited Lectures

In reaction to the absence of women among IMS special invited lecturers in 2013 (see the article by Terry Speed in the June/July issue), Council had an intensive discussion at the Council meeting in Montreal and by email during September and October. In the end, the following motion was proposed and approved by Council:

In order to make sure that IMS committees take the Resolution on Equal Opportunities fully into account in their work and search seriously for qualified candidates that tend to be overlooked by the traditional procedure, the Council approves the following three steps:

1. The housekeeping email that each committee gets from the Executive Director once it is set up in Basecamp is modified and extended. Currently, this email just points the members to the committee guidelines. In the future it will include the text of the Equal Opportunity Resolution and it will say the Council asks the committee to take this resolution into account in their work. This applies to all IMS committees.

2. The President contacts the Chair of the Committee on Special Lectures before it starts its work to discuss how to ensure awareness of the issue of diversity. The Executive Director reminds the President to do this when the new chair is appointed, and the past-President is encouraged to share his/her experience with the new President when the new members to the committee are appointed.

3. At the name gathering stage, the Committee on Special Lectures compiles two separate non-empty lists for each type of special lectureship, one for men and one for women. It is expected that the committee considers and discusses the candidates on both lists seriously, but there is no quota for the voting. The committee is asked to pay attention also to other groups which had not been well represented in the past, and include members of them in the respective lists, if possible.

The motion represents a compromise between different views among Council members, taking some positive action without introducing quotas and without putting a substantial administrative burden on the committee. The specific steps address the under-representation of women, but it implies an obligation to consider similar steps for other groups who may be considered by many at a later point as under-represented.

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