Here's a question I have been pondering this evening and I would like some help getting and answer: How many departments can we convince to field an all female invited speaker slate for the fall semester of 2012?
In my limited scientific capacity I have tried a version of this experiment. I organize my department's seminar series, and a year ago I decided I was going to invite only women and not tell anyone in my department. I was nearly able to fill the semester with all female speakers, but a few visiting scientists ruined my sweep. However, not a single person in the department ever appeared to notice.
But I would like to take this a step further. For the fall of 2012 I would like to not only invite a full slate of female scientists as speakers, but I plan to get my colleagues on board with the plan. Beyond that, I want to get you, dear readers, on board as well. Between you and I, let's see just how many departments we can convince to invite only women to give talks in the fall of 2012.
I plan to bring it up in faculty meeting. I'll inform my department that I'm doing this and ask for suggestions to be sent. By doing it publicly, anyone who scoffs will be announcing that they are an asshole. It may already be widely known, but it never hurts to let these people self identify. By presenting my plan as a done deal, my guess is that people will buy in. Everyone likes something a little different and also likes someone else to do the work.
At the same time, I'm not going to make a big deal of it! No announcements, no drawing attention so that people will say "Oh, look. Affirmative action!" because you and I know that such a sentiment will only make people put a mental asterisk next to the speaker list, which is bullshit. In fact, I have been trying to get three female speakers in for two years and they have been too busy traveling. I'm not looking for any reason for people to view the speaker list as anything different, just like no one would bat an eye if it was an all white sausage party.
I like this evening idea for lots of reasons, but 1) I'm hoping it will help me convince a couple of my favorite scientists to make the visit in support of the notion, and 2) I want my colleagues to at least get it in the back of their mind that we generally invite too many old white dudes.
So help me out people. Who else thinks they can convince their department to spend a semester listing to some awesome science done by kick ass women?