Since the IWMW event was founded in 1997 there have been over 400 speakers! The long-standing nature of the event has value, but there is also a danger that the event organisers will rest on our laurels – continue to do things as we have done in the past and rely on speakers who have a proven track record of delivering the goods.

In recent meetings of the IWMW 2020 Advisory Group we have discussed the importance of widening participation at the event to ensure opportunities are available for all members of the community to share their experiences as well as help support their professional development. 

Looking to the past

The IWMW event was relaunched in 2015. Looking at the profile of speakers and facilitators at IWMW events since then, there have been:

  • 129 individual speakers (average of 26 per event).
  • 89 male (69%)  and 40 female (31%) speakers.
  • 74 speakers from HEIs and 6 from HE bodies (for example Jisc and research councils) and 49 from commercial companies or consultancies.
  • 24 speakers based in HEIs from London and the south east; 19 from Scotland; 10 from the southwest and 10 from north east but only  3 from Midlands; 2 from the north west and 6 from Wales.
  • The 74 speakers from 29 HEIs have been based at 10 Russell Group universities and 19 non-Russell Group universities. 
  • The universities of Edinburgh, Kent, Bath and Greenwich have provided 5 or more individual speakers. 

Planning for IWMW 2020

A recent post on “The IWMW 2020 Advisory Group” published on the IWMW blog highlighted the importance of encouraging diversity as it applied to membership of the advisory group. As the post explains:

Diversity and inclusion aren’t just lip service. They’re vital principles for fostering a skilled, thriving workforce. We believe anyone has the potential to succeed in their chosen area, regardless of their race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, religion, age, socioeconomic status, or any other such diversity characteristic. Talent doesn’t discriminate, and this is true for students across HE institutions as well as employees. If we want to best serve our students, we need to make sure our professional sphere reflects their diverse needs and experiences.

We wish to apply these principles for the range of speakers for the IWMW 2020 event. In particular we wish to build on the approaches taken for recent events and continue to seek:

  • Greater gender diversity in our range of speakers: over 75% of speakers at IWMW 2019 were male, and we would like to see greater gender diversity in our speaker mix.
  • More first-time speakers: last year we offered a buddy scheme for new speakers and provided a speaker handbook and we intend to repeat the approach.

This year we have a number of additional goals to enhance the diversity of speakers. We are looking to encourage submissions from:

  • A wider range of institutions, especially institutions which haven’t provided a speaker in recent years
  • Less well-known institutions
  • Young professionals
  • Early career staff, who may be new to the digital community or the higher education sector
  • Those working in departments not primarily involved in delivering digital services, who can provide topics of interest to the sector
  • Others who may not be adequately represented at the event

The online submission form will allow potential speakers to provide information to the event organisers on the speaker profile (and sensitive issues will not be shared).

We do not, of course, wish to discourage speakers who do not meet these criteria from submitting a proposal! We value everybody’s contribution, and we look forward to hearing all your proposals soon.

NOTE: we intend to announce the call for submissions next week, so get your thinking caps on!