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Letter from the President

[Bill Duax]W.L. Duax
A principle goal of the IUCr is to nurture leadership in all areas of crystallography in all countries of the world. Women have played a major role in the growth and development of crystallography throughout its history and make up a significant part of the crystallographic community in all member countries. Nevertheless, there appears to be a significant underrepresentation by women in the composition of National Committees, the delegates to the General Assembly, the recommendations made by the National Committees for membership on the Commissions of the IUCr, the resulting composition of the Commissions and the individuals proposed by Commission to represent their interests on the Program Committee for the 2008 IUCr Congress in Japan. In the best interest of crystallography, we must see to it that women are represented on National Committees and IUCr Commissions in proportion to their population in the crystallographic community. Furthermore, in Countries or Commissions where participation by women is low or nonexistent, it is essential that measures be taken to see to it, that there are no impediments to female participation and that women be encouraged to participate.

The chairs of the 15 Commissions of the IUCr were asked to identify their probable successors and propose the composition of their Commissions for 2005 - 2008. There was a conspicuous absence of women’s names on the early responses. Consequently, I urged all Commissions to strive for equitable representation by women. I also asked Commission Chairs to recommend at least two nominees for the Program Committee for Osaka, one of which should be female. Some Commissions responded that they were hampered in achieving gender balance because they only consider nominations from National Committees and none of the National Committees had nominated any women for their Commissions. Because the expertise of the members of a Commission is greater than that of the National Committee in their topic areas I urge them not to be limited in their nomination to input from National Committees.

In May, 2005 the secretaries of all National Committees were asked for information about the history, structure and composition of their National Committees, information about any National Crystallographic Association in their country, the names of the delegates they would be sending to the Congress in Florence, and the name of the guest editor for the special issue of the IUCr devoted to their country. There are no women on nine of the 23 National Committee in countries that responded and no women officers in five of the 14 National Crystallographic Associations for which data were provided. The ratio of male to female coeditors of IUCr Journals is 116 to 18 and two of the journals have no women editors.

In order to obtain reliable data concerning the ratio of women to men in our community upon which to assure equitable access to positions of leadership we need statistics on the distribution of males and females in National Crystallographic Associations, attendees at national and international meetings and student applications for financial support to attend meetings supported in part by the IUCr. In order to help National Committees and IUCr Commission Chairs to identify women who are qualified and interested in participating in the work of the vital committees, I wish to create a website of women volunteers. I invite all women crystallographers to register on this website with a short biography covering their areas of expertise and listing not more than three recent representative publications. Send the information to me or to the IUCr newsletter office so that we can build this important database. I welcome any advice and suggestions with respect to data and format for the database.

The IUCr President’s Discretionary Fund has often been used to help senior scientists from disadvantaged countries to attend IUCr Congresses. Unfortunately information about the existence and use of this fund has not been uniformly available to all crystallographers or the National Committees of all member countries. Requests for assistance to attend the Congress in Florence were addressed to Mike Dacombe, the Executive Secretary, to Carlo Mealli, the Program Chair for Florence, and to me. There were over 40 requests for assistance to attend the Florence meeting with as many as seven coming from the same country. The distribution of awards by country was one each in Armenia, Bangladesh, Czech Republic, Colombia, Cuba, India, Israel, Romania, South Africa, Turkey, and Uzbekistan, two each in Argentina, Croatia, and Ukraine, and four in Russia.

The gender distribution of the requests was not balanced and only four awards went to women. Mike and I would like to establish guidelines for future use of the President’s Fund to support attendance to IUCr Congresses by senior scientists. In addition to a formal request, the applicant should have letters of support from a Regional Affiliate of the IUCr and if possible from a National Committee, a short CV and one representative publication. In the future we may ask Regional Affiliates to rank the applicants from their region. The same individual should not be eligible to receive support from the President’s Fund twice in a six-year period.

Bill Duax,