An open letter to the organizers of Canfly 2015

6 07 2015

Dear Drs. Emery, Nilson, Hickson, Hipfner, Moon and Schock,

Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit the beautiful city of Montreal and immerse myself into the wonderful world of Canadian Drosophila Research. I was attending CanFLY2015 conference a week after the Tim Hunt controversy (seriously the dude is an idiot, and months after  hilarious Congrats you have an all-male panel tumbler became popular and the racism within the astronomy community blew up. As a South Asian woman, I know I am under-represented at the faculty and post-doctoral level and normally attending conferences highlights my under-representation. I said normally. This was not one of those conferences. I’m not sure if you as organizers put an effort into making sure at least 1 female scientist was presenting in each session (many session had >1 female including mine) and that a variety of cultures were represented. But you did a great job. The cynic in me would like to think it wasn’t hard to have a diverse representation considering the conference was being held in Montreal, a very diverse city that is a train ride away from the most diverse city in Canada, Toronto. I know this isn’t true. I attended CanFly2013 in Vancouver, a major Canadian city that loves to think of itself as a liberal, diverse and accepting city. The number of URMs could be counted with just the fingers on my hands. This was exactly opposite in Montreal. I wish I had taken a picture of the attendees so that I post what Real Scientists look like, to  show  men and women of all colours beings scientists.  It really was a breath of fresh Canadian air.

We often highlight and talk about the many ways Science is failing men and people of colour. I think it is only fair that we highlight when Science does it right. You were not perfect, but you did a damn fine job. I would like to thank you for giving me hope.






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