Between November 6 and November 8, over 600 attendees including researchers, STEM professionals, and industry leaders gathered in Montréal, Québec to take part in the Gender Summit 11 North America (#GS11NA). The theme of the summit was “Embracing pluralism and thriving through diversity: Shaping science and innovation.” The stimulating dialogue held across the three days of the summit aptly reflected this theme.
Among frequent topics of conversation were the underrepresentation of women (particularly in science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM, fields, but also in other domains such as academia and corporate leadership), implications of women’s underrepresentation for science and innovation, and organizational recruitment efforts aimed toward achieving gender parity. Several plenary sessions at the summit highlighted “the business case” for gender diversity. In a panel led by Daniéle Henkel (President and Founder of Daniéle Henkel Inc.) on Monday afternoon, speakers in top industry positions considered ways in which companies might directly benefit from increasing their gender diversity and representation of women. Other sessions put forth a stronger “innovation and scientific progress case” for gender diversity. A fascinating panel moderated by WWEST Chair Dr. Lesley Shannon explored how failing to consider gender diversity might directly impact the results of scientific studies in medicine, public planning, and computer science.