Dr. Rob Knight and me
Morning registration duties
Drs. Lita Proctor, Rob Knight, Jonathan Eisen, and Linda Brubaker in a final discussion panel called "Breaking the Glass Ceiling: How Do We Solve the Gender Imbalance in STEM?"
Today marks the final day of my west coast excursion! After enjoying my brief experience here helping with the first CMI International Microbiome Meeting, I'm leaving Cali with an even deeper respect and amazement for all that lies unseen by the naked eye. Many thanks to Dr. Rob Knight and all the organizers for two days of fascinating talks with titles ranging from "The Role of the Microbiome in Inflammatory Bowel Disease" to "Whale Microbiomes: Insights from Skin, Blow, and Guts and Potential Use in Health Monitoring."
The experience was made all the more interesting by the fact that all 27 speakers were female, an obviously intentional decision designed to shine light on the problem of gender imbalance at scientific conferences. This generated considerable attention, including an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal referenced here.
While I choose to leave discussions of gender inequality in science to those more informed than I, it's fair to say that a major takeaway from my personal conference experience is that a lack of diversity can be associated with significant pathology,--whether it's in the "micro" context of an inflammatory bowel disease microbiome or the "macro" context of gender representation!
All in all, I'm so very grateful for the opportunity to listen, learn, and hopefully help a little bit, and I'm excited to be returning this summer to work in the Knight Lab in microbiome research!