December 8, 2019

Want to be more inclusive? Stop making geology conferences about the beer.

Posted by Laura Guertin

Twitter feeds are filled the week prior to and of the AGU Fall Meeting such as this:

And as I’ve been reading the amazing powerful EOS series on diversity, equity and inclusion, I’m being reminded of all the other tweets I’ve seen this past year about the role of alcohol at conferences – particularly during poster times and networking sessions. Here’s a few tweets I’ve collected over the past year, which are important to think about, reflect upon, and then decide if we are turning away potential students and colleagues and/or even our current AGU members with this identity and connection between beer and geology (actually, not just geology but science disciplines overall, as not all of these tweets are from geologists or in reference to geology conferences).

I’m starting with this take-home message:

Some other tweets on the topic:


And this thread…

It continues…


It’s important also to not call-out our colleagues who are not drinking:

Stated so well in the last sentence of this tweet:


How many of us have directly spoken to our students and/or informed them ahead of time that someone may walk up to them at their poster with beer in hand? One undergraduate student in the past shared with me that she was extremely uncomfortable with the drinking going on during her poster and felt that the conference wasn’t taking her or her work “serious” with free beer being distributed in visible site of her poster. Also, this tweet:

Unfortunately, this isn’t just an issue in geology. There was a powerful article written about Alcoholism in Archaeology (not focusing on conferences, but fieldwork).

Is it time to start breaking down that identity that geology and beer go hand-in-hand, that you can’t be one without having the other?


What are we to do? I don’t know the answer to this. But I wonder how many people are being excluded from our community (at least conference settings) which is then decreasing our diversity and impacting our inclusion efforts.

Perhaps we could start with how we promote receptions and the wording we use. Here’s a description from the 2019 AGU Fall Meeting online program:

It’s a conversation that needs to move beyond Twitter and into our departments and professional organizations.