When scientific conferences went online, diversity and inclusion soared
New data show that female attendance at virtual science and engineering meetings grew by as much as 253%, and genderqueer scientist attendance jumped 700%. Besides this, the carbon footprint of 7000 virtual attendees was estimated to be equal to one in-person attendee of an international conference in 2019. Also, the high costs associated with in-person scientific conferences can be prohibitive for some sociodemographic groups that may have a more difficult time obtaining funding for travel, like students and postdoctoral scientists.
While many are resistant to hybrid or online events, these findings support the ability of a virtual conference to reach into the scientific community. If we truly want to improve inclusion and diversity in science and engineering, we need to learn from the past year and continue to develop alternative virtual networking methods.