Inclusivity and Diversity in ASGCT

Michele Calos, Ph.D. - March 08, 2019

Today, March 8, is International Women’s Day. It is held as a focal point in the movement for women’s rights to celebrate women’s achievements throughout history and across nations. While the world still has a long way to go in achieving equal rights for women, at the American Society for Gene and Cell Therapy we have many things to celebrate!

ASGCT has been successful in including women in all parts of our operations, especially in recent years. Three of the past five ASGCT presidents have been women (Cynthia Dunbar, Helen Heslop, and myself). Women also occupy many positions among the Society’s other officers and directors and regularly appear on our election ballots. Two of the past five Outstanding Achievement Awards, our highest honor, have gone to women (Maria-Grazia Roncarolo in 2017 and Jean Bennett in 2018).

At the level of the Annual Meeting, we also boast impressive participation of women. ASGCT strives for roughly equal numbers of women and men as speakers and session chairs. We also support good participation of women on our scientific committees, including as chairs of those committees, which play important roles in the selection of speakers and session chairs. Our anti-harassment policy, introduced in 2018, includes provisions for sexual and gender-based harassment and serves to create a more welcoming environment for everyone.

When our members see women playing an active role in the society, it reinforces that ASGCT values all of our members. For women, seeing other women lead encourages them to take on leadership roles and to say yes when asked to run for office, lead a committee, or accept a speaking invitation. Each time this happens, it makes it easier and more natural for women to play equal roles in the field.

I believe that ASGCT’s openness to gender equality, and to diversity of all kinds, is part of the secret of our success. Taking advantage of the contributions of all of our members makes us stronger and creates a healthier, more vital and robust organization, traits we need going forward as we manage our growth and success. I am proud that ASGCT has offered an encouraging environment for women to lead and succeed, and I believe we must make it a priority to continue to do so.

22nd Annual Meeting
April 29 – May 2 | Washington D.C.