Inclusive conferences

Conferences and symposia are opportunities to role-model and showcase the research and expertise of Māori, women in STEMM and members of other equity groups. The following information outlines practices for ensuring such events are inclusive and accessible to all participants.

Conference organisation

  • Think about equity at every facet of the meeting or conference including the gender balance and cultural diversity of the organising committee. 
  • Engage early in the process with your faculty or division Kaiārahi (or email the Equity Office) to ensure your obligations and responsibilities under the Treaty of Waitangi are met.   
  • Consult with the Kaiārahi on an appropriate traditional Māori welcome/acknowledgement and closing, eg, a Pōwhiri, Mihi Whakatau or Poroporoaki. 
  • Ensure a range of diverse speakers in terms of gender, culture, perspective, geography, age and seniority.    
  • Shoulder-tap a diverse range of people to submit abstracts for the conference particularly in areas where those groups are in a minority.
  • Allow for a poster abstract by Māori or equity group member to be upgraded to a talk if the topic is appropriate.
  • Compare the assumed gender distribution of the final selected spectra to the distribution of the submissions. They should be roughly similar.    
  • Consider offering travel support for partners or care-givers to attendees who would otherwise not be able to accept conference speaking invitations.     
  • Ensure all conference materials are accessible, including promotion, signage and abstract submission processes. 
  • Include a question on the registration form to determine any support or access requirements that participants may have (note that there will need to be provision in the budget to meet these requirements).

Read about how to achieve gender balance in science conferences:

Conference excursions and activities

  • Be aware of any possible cultural appropriation if specific groups are performing at your conference. 
  • Ensure accessibility at all events, excursions and social activities.
  • Consider appropriateness of performances for a formal conference.
  • Consider participant safety, especially when alcohol is being served.
  • Have a code of conduct or policy for the meeting (see below). Include in pre-conference information. 
  • Have a clear process for managing any complaints. 
  • Write an equity report for publication on the conference website and for measuring change over time. Include activities that were taken to promote inclusivity and diversity, plus data on (presumed) gender and cultural balance of, speakers, participants, session chairs, questioners, etc.

Conference Code of Conduct/Policy (example)

The conference name strives to be inclusive and equitable at all stages. We have endeavoured to be accessible, diverse and achieve gender balance on the organising committee, session chairs as well as invited speakers and selection of contributed abstracts.
The conference name is dedicated to providing a harassment-free experience for everyone. This code of conduct applies to all conference spaces, including both online and offline. Anyone who violates this code of conduct may be sanctioned or expelled from these spaces at the discretion of the Organising Committee.
We ask that all attendees follow these guidelines:
  • Behave professionally
  • Be considerate and respectful to others; do not insult or put down other attendees
  • Critique ideas rather than individuals
  • Harassment and offensive or exclusionary comments and behaviour related to race, culture, gender, sexual orientation, disability, age, physical appearance or religion are not appropriate
  • Do not monopolise discussion; sustained disruption of talks or other events may be considered harassment
  • No photography or recording of an individual without consent.

Inclusive conferences in the news

The Guardian recently published an article outlining the challenges of attending conferences and building networks for disabled academics.