We have a diversity problem in higher education. While we cannot change university funding and hiring practices overnight, we believe that we can and must pressure scholarly organizations to create more space for marginalized academics and to create new opportunities for members of underrepresented groups.
The diversity problem is most visible at the conference level in academic panels. All-white and all-male panels are replicas of—and replicate—systems of unequal access. These were produced by generations of gendered and segregated opportunities that benefited straight white male scholars at the expense of all others. Permitting the all-male and all-white panel serves to reinforce these power structures within the academy. Following the lead of the African American Intellectual History Society, which refuses to accept “‘manels” (all-male panels) or all-white panels,” we believe that it is appropriate to demand more of institutional gatekeepers and to vote with our feet.
We hope, by publishing a pledge and a public list of those who have taken it, to pressure academic institutions and societies to better reflect both the diverse nature of existing scholarship and to foster a more inclusive profession that embraces the diversity of our communities worldwide.
Accordingly, we will no longer attend or host conferences:
- Where rules permit all-white and all-male panels.
- That fail to clearly provide gender-inclusive accommodations, including but not limited to serving the needs of LGBTQIA+ folk.
- Which do not have a clear policy of fostering relationships with first-generation scholars and scholars of color (Black, Brown, or Indigenous).
- That fail to create accessible physical and intellectual spaces for members of the disabled community.
The Activist History Review
Note: Cover photo courtesy of Creative Commons (CC0).