No announcement yet.

IAP Equity and Access Guidelines

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • IAP Equity and Access Guidelines

    On September 17, 2019, the Governing Board approved the IAP Equity and Access Guidelines by a margin of 15 of 19 members of the Board

    Per the Association Laws & By-Laws, all actions of the Board must be approved and voted on by the general membership of the Association. In compliance with such requirement, you are requested to review this document and provide any feedback regarding this issue.

    This document is provided herein as an attachment

    Discussions will be open for a period of 10-days followed by a general membership vote.

    Provide your feedback below
    Attached Files

  • #2
    Why can I access these guidelines as a public document but I can’t access the current newsletter unless I log-on as a member?. Irregularities prevail.


    • #3
      It would be great if the IAP could adopt the equity and access guidelines in 2019 and then harness the combined intellectual and operational might of all of its membership to promote new ideas beyond the membership and advance the control of paratuberculosis globally.


      • #4
        Dear Members,

        In the next few days you will be requested to vote on the Equity and Access Guidelines adopted by the Governing Board. On first glance, who wouldn’t support such guidelines? After all, we can all agree that everyone should be treated with equality and bias or discrimination has no place in science or our Association.

        However, it is important to understand the background and history of these guidelines as well as the effect these guidelines will have on the Association. I strongly encourage you to read this policy carefully and understand its potential ramifications before voting – know what you are voting for.

        During the Executive Meeting of the Association held during the 2018 International Colloquium in Mexico, a single Officer and Board member complained that all the invited speakers at the Colloquium were male and suggested the need to create an Equity and Access Policy for the Association. During discussion, she agreed that there was no evidence of bias or discrimination in the Association. While we all can (or should) agree that politics has no place in science, the Governing Board nevertheless approved creating a Working Group to develop an Equity and Access Policy expressing a political position. Without any evidence or even a suggestion of bias or discrimination, the policy aims to solve a non-existent problem.

        I objected to the inclusion of only sex and gender in the Policy and suggested, since we are an International Organization, that all disenfranchised groups be included in the Policy. In response to my objections, the Working Group added “minority groups” and “equity groups” elusively in the guidelines. In addition, regional representation was introjected into the policy, coinciding with gender and sex.

        Since the terms “minority groups” and “equity groups” have no meaning and even Google offers no definition and the Working Group declined to define these groups even after requested, the Policy effectively refers only to sex, gender, and regional representation and all references to “minority” and “equity” groups are null. Since it is illegal to ask sexual orientation throughout most of the European Union and gender (particularly the non-binary classes) may be interpreted as an expression of sexual orientation, the gender clause is also null. Thus, the policy defaults to a sex policy.

        Since “minority” and “equity” groups have no meaning, I created an alternative Equity and Access Policy identical to the original except that I replaced sex, gender, minority and equality groups with all the disenfranchised groups recognized by the United Nations, European Union and the United States. After all, as an International association, shouldn’t we recognize all disenfranchised groups and not just females? The Board unanimously rejected this amended policy and the inclusion of universally recognized disenfranchised groups – the policy remained a sex policy.

        I also proposed that instead of having an Equity and Access Policy, we should have a Discrimination Clause within the Laws & By-Laws of the Association. Except for a single support, the Board rejected such a suggestion.

        Last but not least, it was erroneously suggested that the Policy be renamed Guidelines as such would not require ratification (approval) by the general membership. And so the Policy became a Guideline, although it continues to be called a policy.

        So, once you take away all the fluff, you are being asked to vote on a Female Equity (not Equality) and Access Policy. Is that really so bad? Does it disenfranchise others at the expense of sex? You decide whether this policy will be a benefit or detriment to the Association and future Colloquia?

        Although the policy has not been implemented yet (requires your vote), how has it affected the upcoming IAP Colloquium in Ireland?

        These Guidelines have a rather extensive reporting requirement which I argued made the guidelines mandatory by default and sex (female) would become a major criteria in selecting speakers, moderators, awards, etc., rather than credentials or worthiness at future meetings. It would throw out the “best person for the job”. It was argued that the Guidelines were only guidelines and could not be enforced. But isn’t coercion a means of enforcement?

        The organizers of the next Colloquium in Ireland were under a great deal of pressure and “flak” to have female invited speakers. Statements such as “it is the role of the scientific committee for each session … to nominate female scientists as Keynote speakers” is certainly suggestive of a requirement. The organizers of the meeting even felt compelled (or obligated) to ask the Policy chairperson for recommendations and agreed to have 2 female Plenary keynote speakers. Was this coercion and were these 2 female speakers selected because of their sex or because they are the “best person for the job”?

        It is a conflict of interest, or at the very least the impression of a conflict of interest, when the chairperson of these Guidelines and the individual pressuring the Colloquium organizers to invited female speakers, is herself selected and accepts the position of a Plenary speaker at the upcoming Colloquium. Does this not violate the conflict of interest clause of the policy itself that she created?

        There are many very qualified women in science and in our Association that would be great speakers and I most certainly would welcome them. But under these circumstances, whether qualified or truly “best for the job”, everyone will know that the female speakers were selected because they are female, nor because of their credential or because they were the “best for the job”. And that is a shame. These guidelines will forever tarnished female speakers.

        As mentioned earlier, the selection based on sex alone will be at the demise of others. Throughout these guidelines, all committees, invited speakers, etc., are to be balanced (in addition to sex) to regional representation based on the diversity of IAP membership. How has this worked? There are 6 invited plenary speakers for the Colloquium in Ireland. Four of the 6 (66.7%) are from Australia who represent only 9.5% of the Association diversity. Where was the coercion to insure regional representation? Was regional representation sacrificed at the expense of sex? This is what happens when you blindly select based on a single (mandatory) criterion such as sex.

        Even before its approval by the membership, this policy has been enforced by coercion, is froth with conflicts of interest and, other than sex, fails to meet the minimum guidelines established by the policy.

        Is this how you want your Association to operate in the future? Do we abandon our selection criteria of the past based on the “best person for the job” and change the Association to do things as “best person for the job of X sex”. This is simply bad policy in general and bad for the Association.

        So just don’t vote to support this Policy or Guidelines because it seems like the politically correct thing to do. Read it, recognize the multitude of flaws and errors that exist within and consider its overall impact on your Association.

        I encourage you to vote to reject this Equity and Access Policy and keep the politics out of our Association.

        Rod Chiodini


        • #5
          My feeling is that guidelines can be useful to allow reflection on unconscious bias. Can I refute at least one of the claims above. I'm a member of one of the Scientific committees for the next ICP and gender was never mentioned in the emails exchanged when nominations were proposed for Keynote speakers in this topic area.


          • #6
            Dear IAP member,

            I am writing in response to accusations levelled by Rod Chiodini in this discussion and the email containing his personal opinions which he sent to you using an official email address from the International Association for Paratuberculosis. While he has been careful not to specifically name me, there is no doubt that he is describing me. I would like to set the record straight as not all members would be aware of the situation he is describing. I also want to correct the numerous inaccuracies in his email to you. I will not address, at this stage, the highly questionable nature of Rod approaching the membership directly on a position which is in conflict with that of the board.

            At the last ICP in Mexico, I presented a request to both the Governing Board and the general membership that the IAP should adopt an Equity and Access policy. Those who attended the ICP in Mexico would be aware that the presentation highlighted that only men had been invited as keynote speakers in Mexico. Rod is wrong when he states, “Without any evidence or even a suggestion of bias or discrimination, the policy aims to solve a non-existent problem.” and “she agreed that there was no evidence of bias or discrimination in the Association”. Evidence of bias was not the intent of the presentation and he has willfully misrepresented what was presented.

            Subsequent to the last ICP, an Equity and Access Guidelines/Policy was prepared by a Working Group comprising Prof. Herman Barkema, Dr. Marta Alonso-Hearn and me. Rod vehemently disagreed with this policy and prepared his own one which he named ‘My Equity and Access policy’. Both documents were discussed by the IAP Governing Board. The Board then voted on which policy to pursue. The version prepared by the Working Group was voted with 15 in favour, 2 against and 1 Board Member abstaining from voting. This evidently represents a clear majority of the board and has clearly unsettled Rod.

            Rod contradicts himself when he states that the Guidelines do not require approval by the general membership. The IAP has started a discussion about the proposed Guidelines via a Discussion Board on the IAP website. The next step is to get IAP members to vote on the Guidelines. He is attempting to influence your decision because he has not been able to sway the decision of the Governing Board which consists of members you have elected.

            I am not writing to encourage you to vote in any particular manner. The Working Group has drafted the Guidelines, it is supported by the Board and your opinion of the proposed Guidelines should not be swayed by his intimidation.

            Let me quickly redress some of the other comments.

            Rod stated that the organisers of the next ICP have been placed ‘under a great deal of pressure’? It’s unclear how this would be the case as these Guidelines have not been adopted by the IAP yet.

            Who ‘compelled (or obligated) the organisers to ask the Policy chairperson’, i.e. me, for recommendations?

            The Chair of the next ICP, Peter Mullowney, did indeed contact me to ask me who I would recommend as female keynote speakers for all sessions. I replied directly, and only, to Peter to say “ is the role of the scientific committee for each session, as experts in that particular specialty, to nominate female scientists as Keynote speakers.” Although it is curious as to how Rod Chiodini was able to quote my reply to Peter Mullowney verbatim.

            I did not ask for, nor come to an agreement with anyone, as to how many women should be invited keynote speakers. Indeed, if I have the powers of coercion that have been attributed to me then why would I stop at just 2?

            Another inaccuracy in Rod’s email is that 4 of the 6 keynote speakers are from Australia: only 2 are from Australia. I won’t bother teaching Rod about the details of geography.

            Rod’s premise is that “everyone will know that the female speakers were selected because they are female, nor because of their credential or because they were the 'best for the job'.” However, I will not waste my time answering such a juvenile (apologies to all juveniles) question. Needless to say, the same question could inevitably be posed to anyone, irrespective of gender, unless, of course, you have one of your mates on the selection committee.

            I invite Rod to provide evidence for his statement:
            “the chairperson of these Guidelines and the individual pressuring the Colloquium organizers to invited (sic) female speakers”
            I have had no involvement with the selection of keynote speakers, and I challenge anyone to provide evidence that I coerced the Organising or Scientific committees to do anything.

            It is indeed unfortunate that there has been an attempt to discredit the policy and compromise the voting process. The proposed Guidelines have not been adopted yet and it is for you to decide how to vote.

            Let me close by stating that I greatly appreciate the emails of support that I have already received from members of the organization from across the globe. I am currently exploring what official options are available to me to remedy the matter including the slanderous accusations that have been made against me.

            Yours faithfully,

            Kumi de Silva
            (IAP Editor-in-Chief)


            • #7
              Dear colleagues,

              I am convinced that each and everyone amongst our membership supports our Association striving for equal opportunities for all colleagues involved in paratuberculosis research, irrespective of their gender, country, orientation, religion or race - whether or not we do adopt formal guidelines. However, I would like to kindly request our Board to clarify three items in the proposed guidelines:

              (i) What exactly do we mean by "Where possible, consideration should be given in event budgets for grants to increase participation from parents of young children and [....]"? Do we intend to provide a grant to colloquium participants to bring their children? Or to cover any expenses of taking care for children at home whilst being away to the conference? If so, do we anticipate to be able to develop fair and balanced criteria to determine which colleagues are eligible and which colleagues are not? Would the next step be to provide these grants not only to caregivers of children, but also to colleagues who provide care to others such as the disabled or the elderly?

              (ii) At many conferences, selection of abstracts is done by blinding the scientific committee for the identity of the authors during the selection process. This seems a fair way to select based on quality, as long as we are aware that the content of the abstract may give away some clues on the study population - and thus on the authors. However, if the gender distribution of oral and poster presentations at the colloquium or within a particular session of the colloquium is going to be an issue, how do we envisage the selection process? If, after scoring the quality of the abstracts blind and selecting the abstracts with the highest quality for a particular session, we were to find out that the sex distribution is unbalanced, do we intend to drop a high quality abstract from the list of oral presentations in favour of a lower scoring abstract from a colleague with the opposite sex?

              (iii) A similar question could arise if we include other author characteristics to define minority groups (such as religion or country of origin) and aim to select a stratified sample of abstracts for oral presentation. If, for instance, authors from a single small country or a single region were to submit a large volume of abstracts, does that warrant that these authors are more likely to be selected for an oral presentation - irrespective of the quality of the submitted abstracts?

              Many thanks for any clarifications,
              with best wishes,



              • #8
                Dear colleagues:I think this whole conversation is useless and biased as it puts away the thrust and mission of IAP :sharing and distribution of science regardless of gender, religion, race, country etc with the presentation selection being made by the respective scientific committee based on scientific quality and timeliness. I wish Dr.Silva would have spent more time on the Newsletter which seems to have disappeared..


                • #9
                  Dear colleagues, I was in touch with Rod trying to find out why emails from Rod and Vivek denying each other have arrived. Prof. Buergelt expressed in his post what I wanted to write. We are a scientific organisation and nothing else than science should play role in the life of IAP. Any attempts to prefer anything else than science is ridiculous. I fully support Rod's opinion and I think we should reject the presented IAP Equity and Access Guidelines. Majority of my colleagues are women and they would be ashamed if their gender would give them preferential treatment despite of the scientific quality of their work.


                  • #10
                    Dear colleagues, I feel this is a good initiation to address some of the important issues such as gender and regional representation. I appeal to support this guideline in favour of our profession and society.


                    • #11
                      Dear colleagues and friends,
                      apologise to get so late into the discussion but in my view praghmatism and scientific soundness should accompaign our activity. I tried to take some evidences on the member population composed at the moment by 170 persons, where I counted that the ratio F/M is roughly 1:3, similar to the ratio at the board level 4:11. From this point of view it seems that there's no need for such policies. Nonetheless, this is clear only for the more developed countries were the fight for equal opportunities has a century of history. Regarding the document I'm not sure if it is useful or needed for our community and it is surely perfectible.
                      But we might consider it a signal for our stakeholders, in the perspective of a growing interest for paratuberculosis in the new developing countries and a guarantee for the future ICPs.
                      Hoping to get to Dublin the next June,
                      my best wishes


                      • #12
                        Dear colleagues and friends,

                        We need to keep basic principle of ensuring gender or minority equality in mind, but not necessary to describe in law of IAP.
                        I put my opinion to following summary of “Equity and Access Guidelines for the International Association for Paratuberculosis”.

                        1. Balanced gender and regional representation on the organizing committees, scientific committees, session chairs and keynote speaker invitations based on diversity of IAP membership
                        >>> These balance can’t be controlled by IAP or board.

                        2. Avoiding all-male or all-female sessions
                        >>> I can’t imagine the reason to avoide.

                        3. Appropriate representation of minority groups
                        >>> I think there was no racial discrimination, gender bias or discrimination for person with gender identity problem in previous IAP.

                        4. Specifically for the ICP: Keynote speakers at one year’s ICP should preferably not include keynote speakers from the previous conference
                        >>> Any researcher reported excellent work before, can take key note speaker again, if organizing committee consider the value of new topic by the same person.
                        It should be depend on the organizing committee.

                        5. The Chair of an event to produce an equity and access summary on the final program, including data on the gender distribution of keynote speakers and oral and poster presentations.
                        >>> The selection should be decided by the scientific quality and the importance for ICP.

                        6. The local organizing committee to endeavor to provide facilities that enable and promote equitable participation in the activities of the IAP (e.g. disability access and assistance for care givers)
                        >>> I agree with this considerable. This is an important consideration for ICP, but general consideration of our society too..

                        Eiichi Momotani


                        • #13
                          Dear colleagues,
                          I am surprised with this discussion. Even though I do not think the Guidelines are necessary for such a small scientific association where females played a role from the beginning (remember Marie Thorel and Diana Whipple), I acknowledge the unconscious bias problem and would not like to deny what other people might feel. The problem we have here seems to be that we are creating a problem where there was none on the wake of a ideology that, even necessary in many places, seems to be sweeping the world. The result here is that we might be replacing unconscoiuos behaviour with deliberate confrontation. Anyway, at this stage, I do not think we should throw away the work of the people who did it, even if we would have used the resources to the more specific goals of the IAP. Please, forget personal attitudes and mistakes and just vote to close the issue. By the way, I already did, and may be twice (or nil) because I did not get any feedback.


                          • #14
                            These guidelines, in my opinion, are long overdue. Equity and Diversity Policies are not an ideology, but a means to ensure that IAP has policies & mechanisms to increase participation of all its members and especially of the under-represented groups. Other organizations (e.g ASM DOI: 10.1128/mBio.01146-15) have taken a serious look at the under representation of women as speakers or as panel chairs - so IAP is rather late in this respect. Scientific Excellence will be maintained and enhanced through policies that promote full participation of all members, and yes, of the excellent women scientist members of IAP.
                            Lucy Mutharia


                            • #15
                              Dear members of IAP,
                              Firstly, I’m really sorry to say I did not have the chance to vote in this ballot. I have written to the secretary of the IAP, Dr Ray Sweeney who was immediately informed about this. I have already checked my registration and everything appears in order, so I don’t know why I did not receive the email for the ballot.
                              For sure, as reported by others, there are some points in the guidelines which probably merit a further meditation, but, in my opinion, the entire matter was a point of sensitivity: I personally don’t feel comfortable thinking anyone in this association feels discriminated against on the grounds of gender, not to mention religion or race. In my opinion, our association has lost a chance to be sensitive to its own members and to make a step into the future. I want to thank the Working Group for having raised this point, which was not a waste of time and resources, but instead it was a good opportunity. Alas, these guidelines have not been accepted, but fortunately, they have been approved by the majority of those who had the opportunity to vote!