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Oct 2018 - Year 20 - Issue 5

ISSN 1755-9715

EVE: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

When you go to an ELT conference, do you ever notice that the plenary line-up is mainly white men? Or perhaps you see that ‘native speakers’ are more highly represented than highly proficient L2 speakers of English? If so, you’re not alone. Although the situation is improving in some countries, in many contexts conference plenaries are still dominated by white men and L1 speakers of English. This is why we created EVE: Equal Voices in ELT.


What is our aim and who are we?

EVE was launched in February 2018. Its aim is to recognise both gender and highly proficient speaker parity in keynotes and plenaries in ELT conferences and events worldwide. We feel that speakers in these positions provide role models, especially for younger professionals. As such, it is extremely important that women and L2 speakers are adequately represented.

The idea was conceived by Fiona Mauchline, based in Oxford, UK and myself, Sue Leather, based in Vancouver, Canada. We are joined in the team by Henrick Oprea and Higor Cavalcante, from Brazil, Aleksandra Popovski from Macedonia and Adam Simpson based in Turkey. Our idea was to cover as much of the globe as possible with a reasonably-sized team.

Who has inspired us?

At the time when we started EVE , some progress had already been made in the fight for parity for women and highly proficient L1 / L2 speakers. An initiative called The Fair List, UK, started by Tessa Woodward, had led the way- and continues to lead the way- in paying attention to gender balance in UK conference plenaries. We were also inspired by Women in ELT, a Facebook group with c. 1500 members started by Nicola Prentis.


What do we do?

The idea is a simple one. On our website,   we post a calendar of events whose line-ups fit one of the following criteria: gender parity (even number of plenaries) or near parity (odd number of plenaries); highly proficient L1 / L2 speaker parity (even) or near parity (odd); balance both of gender and highly proficient speaker L2 / L1 parity (even) or near parity (odd).

Organisations are encouraged to contact us with the final line-ups for their forthcoming events, if they wish to be considered for inclusion in the calendar. For the gender category, we only include events not taking place in the UK. Any UK events will be referred to The Fair List.

The organisers of conferences or events who achieve these ratios will then be invited to display one of our three EVE badges, which you can see above, on their conference page. The purple badge is for gender parity, the green badge is for L1/L2 parity, and the platinum badge is for both. There will also be a link to their event page on the EVE Calendar. At the time of writing, there are 35 events on the calendar for 2018, from all over the world.

The EVE team recognises that there are factors involved when organising a conference or event that can make balance difficult to achieve. However, it is achievable with support from all involved, and EVEs are awarded in recognition of both the efforts made by the event’s organisers and the support given by the event’s sponsors.  We are careful not to punish anyone; our aim is simply to reward positive behaviour.


How can you be part of EVE?

You can be part of this positive movement in a number of ways. You can tell your colleagues about us and remind conference organisers that we exist. You can follow us on Facebook  and on Twitter and find out about our events, our conference presentations, and our tweetchats. If you have been involved in, or even just witnessed, a change plenary line-ups at an event in your city or region, you can write a blog for our site.  Please contact us if you have something you’d like to write a short piece about.

Last but not least, you can become one of the ‘Friends of EVE’ and add your name to the hundreds who have done just that.  If you would like to support EVE: Equal Voices in ELT, please email us at: