Spanish Scholars to Boycott Panel Events that Do Not Feature Women

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Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

More than 50 male academics from Spain have pledged to boycott all conferences and speaking panels that don’t feature women.

The pledge, which is called “No Sin Mujeres” (Not Without Women), has been joined by 56 economists and academics in Spain. The pledge specifically states that they will boycott any all-male round-table discussion with more than two speakers.

“It is a way to get in tune with a very obvious demand and give a warning to organizers of academic events,” economist Emilio Ontiveros said regarding his decision to take part in the pledge. “It is obvious that we are in a country that discriminates against women. I am in favor of new mechanisms that make it easier for them to rise up.”

Rafael Domenech, professor of economic analysis at the University of Valencia, argued that the initiative responds to a popular demand for more female representation at academic events. “I think it is an initiative that makes a lot of sense and responds to a completely fair demand.”

This is not the first attempt to increase diversity on academic panels by non-traditional means. In September, George Washington University introduced a “gender quota” for any multi-speaker events. Under the policy, all multi-speaker events with at least three speakers must feature at least one female panelist. In the case of an all-male panel, the moderator must be female. Administrators would retain the discretion to cancel any event that did not conform to the policy.

Jonathan Chaves, a professor of Chinese at the Elliott School at George Washington University,  was “outraged” by the new policy. “It’s a total, obvious infringement on common sense to begin with and academic freedom. There’s only one standard that applies to an institution of higher education and that is who the best person is in the field. Period,” Chaves argued.

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