On October 5, 2017, the iGIANT Roundtable Scholars (iRS) program launched at Purdue University. Graduate students representing 6 nations participated in the inaugural program. Students from computer science, political science, biology, chemistry, history and more attended this roundtable. Men and women came together discuss the challenges and solutions to enhance the acceleration of research into gender/sex-specific design elements such as programs, policies, protocols and products across their respective disciplines. Several of the students mentioned that they had never thought about issues through a gender/sex lens until they attended this event. The power of the roundtable was palpable as they dived deeper into the discussion on how gender/sex influences every aspect of their professional and personal lives. Each student declared their own call-to-action to develop design elements.
Actions items included encouraging their departments to improve their policies regarding mandated times for staff meetings so that men and women with families can equally attend, to being conscious about gender-sensitive language in their reports, to insisting that personal protective equipment be provided which work effectively for both men and women, to restructuring their labs so that men and women with different upper body strength have equal access to equipment. Students who never met each other now continued their conversations outside the conference room even outside the building. New collegial relationships were formed and alliances developed. Students who have graduated or will soon graduate can now compete to become iGIANT Scholars-in-Residence (see www.igiant.org/careers).
The power of the iRS will be harnessed into new iGIANT challenges and prizes. Challenge competitions will soon launch for undergraduate, graduate and high school students. The iRS program will inspire generations of innovators whose design elements will improve the safety and quality of life, including work performance, for men and women. Any school can host an iRS program. The iGIANT will provide the tool kit and one only needs a quiet space to bring together high school or undergraduate or graduate students. A small investment of time will yield powerful results which can transform our world!