How BOSC supports diversity, inclusion and accessibility
Diversity, inclusion and accessibility (also known as Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, DEI) are a major part of BOSC’s mission and core values.
Below are some of the ways we have worked to promote DEI at BOSC as well as at ISMB (our host conference) and in the broader open bioinformatics community.
– Our parent organization, the Open Bioinformatics Foundation, funds the OBF event fellowships (https://www.open-bio.org/event-awards/), which aim to increase diversity at events (including, but not limited to, BOSC) that promote open science as a research practice. These fellowships fund participants whose attendance will contribute to increase the diversity of such events (e.g. underrepresented demographic groups, ethnic origins, career stages, and disabilities).
– Authors who submit their work to BOSC can request ISMB registration fee support on the submission form (these requests are not seen by reviewers). This initiative is funded by sponsorships (https://www.open-bio.org/events/bosc-2022/sponsors/). Since we introduced this option three years ago, we’ve been able to offer free registration to dozens of people, most of whom are from groups underrepresented at ISMB/BOSC. 19 people (of whom 18 were from underrepresented groups) were granted free registration in 2022 thanks to a combination of these registration fee waivers and OBF event fellowships.
– To help everyone feel welcome at BOSC, we introduced a code of conduct in 2015, and successfully lobbied our host conference ISMB to adopt one as well. OBF adopted a code of conduct in 2022 (https://github.com/OBF/obf-docs/tree/master/code-of-conduct).
– We strive to choose keynote speakers who represent a diversity of backgrounds and ideas. To make our selection process fair and transparent, we developed an invited speaker rubric and an opportunity for community members to nominate potential keynote speakers and comment on nominees (https://www.open-bio.org/2023/02/02/nominate-keynote-speaker-for-bosc-2023/)
– In recognition that not everyone is privileged enough to gift their time, we started offering honoraria to keynote speakers in 2021.
– The first talk at BOSC (and, to our knowledge, at ISMB) to be delivered in a language other than English was given in 2021 by keynote speaker Thomas Hervé Mboa Nkoudou of Cameroon (https://www.open-bio.org/events/bosc-2021/bosc-2021-keynotes/).
– Although there is not a formal rubric for choosing BOSC organizing committee members, diverse representation is a factor in choosing an array of people who will help BOSC appeal to and be accessible to the widest range of participants. The 9 people on the 2023 organizing committee include 4 women, 2 Black people, 2 South Asian people, and one Latin American.
– BOSC’s review process and rubric have been published openly since 2020: https://github.com/OBF/bosc_materials/blob/master/BOSC_review_process.md.
– Recent BOSCs have included DEI-focused sessions such as “Inclusion & Open Science” in 2022 (https://www.open-bio.org/events/bosc-2022/bosc-2022-schedule/); we plan to have a similar session in 2023.
– Panel discussions have included topics relating to inclusion and diversity in open science. BOSC 2022’s panel topic was Building and Sustaining Inclusive Open Science Communities, https://www.open-bio.org/events/bosc-2022/bosc-2022-panel/). BOSC 2015’s panel topic was “Open Source, Open Door: increasing diversity in the bioinformatics open source community” (https://www.open-bio.org/wiki/BOSC_2015_Panel). An article in GenomeWeb covered the 2015 panel (https://www.genomeweb.com/informatics/bosc-community-discusses-ways-boost-diversity-participation-bioinformatics).
– The 2020 event (BCC2020, which paired BOSC with the Galaxy Community Conference) was groundbreaking for DEI due to being online and presented twice a day for accessibility around the globe, and all videos professionally captioned. Participants at this event hailed from 61 countries, many of which had never been represented before at BOSC.
– As far as we are aware, BOSC 2022 was the first BOSC, possibly even the first ISMB, to include a service dog, demonstrating tangible progress in our efforts to make BOSC more inclusive and accessible.
Our annual BOSC reports, published in the open access journal F1000Research, include sections on DEI (see e.g. https://f1000research.com/articles/11-1034/v1 for 2022, or https://f1000research.com/articles/9-1160/v1 for 2021).