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EVE: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

by Sue Leather

Why EVE?

It seems that the time is right for this kind of initiative. Good progress has been made already in the fight for parity for women and highly proficient L1 / L2 speakers. The Fair List, UK, for example, has led the way by paying attention to gender balance in UK conference plenaries. Now is the time to take it one step further and to recognise the great strides being made in ELT all around the world.

EVE: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

Who Is EVE?

We are a group of ELT practitioners interested in the issue of equality at conferences and other professional events. The idea was conceived by Fiona Mauchline and myself, Sue Leather. We are joined in the Founding Team by Higor Cavalcante, Henrick Oprea, Aleksandra Popovski, who manages our Facebook page, and Adam Simpson, who manages our Twitter account. Our team are based in North and South America, the UK and Europe. We hope that by having such a global team, we can keep tabs on what is happening in the ELT conference world everywhere!

We have been inspired by Tessa Woodward and the Fair List , which encourages gender balance in plenaries in the UK, and by the work of Marek Kiczkowiak and TEFL Equity Advocates, which advocates for the rights of proficient L2 speaker teachers in ELT. We were inspired by Silvana Richardson’s 2016 IATEFL plenary. The ‘native factor’, the haves and the have-nots. Last but not least, we are inspired by the Facebook group Women in ELT, founded by Nicola Prentis, which now, at the beginning of 2018 and after only a year, has just under 1,500 members from all over the world.

Ian James took the photograph (available at eltpics) used as the basis of the EVE logo and badges, which you can see above. The original image is of handrails on steps: symmetry and support ‘onwards and upwards’, one step at a time.

What are we doing?

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.

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.

At the time of writing (early March 2018), we already have ten events on our calendar for 2018, including conferences in Japan, Germany, Spain, France, Greece, Australia and in the virtual world!

How can you be part of EVE?

You can be part of this positive movement in a number of ways, and we’d love you to get involved! 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.

Last but not least, you can become one of the ‘Friends of EVE’ by adding 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: [email protected]

We’re looking forward to hearing from you!

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