The Fair List awards excellence in gender balance of plenary speakers and panelists at UK ELT events. So I was very interested to note a great stirring of interest in the whole business of fair representation on panels. Below are references to three interesting resources.

First I read the headline:

‘Only men at your event? This blog will shame you’
on BBC Trending in May of 2015.

I went on to read this…………

“How often have you looked around at a meeting or in the office, lecture hall or event space and seen a room full of just men?”

Now one website is pointing out this phenomenon by publishing photos of all-male panels, (AMPs) or “manels”. The site is a Tumblr blog, sarcastically called, Congrats! You Have an All-Male Panel.

It started in February and features 200 photos, submitted from people from about 10 countries. The simple but now-viral idea is a project of the Finnish feminist researcher and artist Saara Sarma, who specializes in internet parody images and memes.

Whether it’s a Global Summit of Women with only men on the panel or back-to-back male panels in conferences, the images on the site bring home the message that gender equality among rostrums of leaders or experts is in short supply……….

Sarma points to many other efforts to call groups out on the “manel” phenomena including the Twitter accounts of watchdog group @EUPanelwatch and @genderavenger, public forums like Foreign Policy Interrupted and websites and that of Owen Barder, the Director for Europe at the Centre for Global Development, who is encouraging male experts to take a pledge not to appear on all-male panels.

“I think it is always very small steps that we take towards equality, so I don’t dare to hope that manels would stop altogether, but if this makes people think about diversity more seriously and at least some people commit to not organising all male or all white panels, I’d be very happy,” Sarma says. “I’d be very happy if I never saw any of my colleagues on an all-male panel again.” Blog by Olivia Crellin.

Secondly, a supporter of The Fair List, Kathleen Graves, told me about an article entitled, ‘Female Scientists Turn to Data to Fight Lack of Representation on Panels’. It’s by Apoorva Mandavilli. Here is a taste of the article.

“One day in August 2015, the Princeton University neuroscientist Yael Niv saw an email notice of a conference on deep brain stimulation, a hot topic in treatment for depression and other mental disorders. Dr. Niv noticed that none of the 21 scientists scheduled to speak were women.

This was not the first time Dr. Niv had lamented a skewed lineup.”

Yael Niv contacted other neuroscientists who then started a website called BiasWatchNeuro.
You can get to the article via this link:

Thirdly, another supporter of The Fair List and one of my mentors, Fiona Bartels-Ellis, told me about a sixteen page, thought-provoking piece called Responding to #AllMalePanels: A Collage by Cai Wilkinson, Evren M. Eken, Laura Mills, Roxanne Krystalli, Harry D. Gould, Jesse Crane-Seeber & Paul Kirby. It was published online: 09 Aug 2016 and is now available via:

The collage argues that simply adding more women to panels is not the answer to bias as it does not deal with other axes of diversity. Here’s a taste of the argument,

“However, settling for this quick fix has some potentially serious side effects for gender equity and diversity. Apparent practicality aside, a “just add women” response to AMPs risks perpetuating not only the notion that gender is binary, essentialized and visible, but also that gender parity between women and men should to be prioritized over other axes of diversity.”

There is a lot to think about in these three resources. As for me, I am just delighted to be living in an era where all this is being discussed, action taken and change effected.

Bring it on!!

Tessa Woodward
The Founder
The Fair List