What?  EVE stands for Equal Voices in ELT. It is an organisation created to recognise both gender and highly proficient speaker * parity in keynotes and plenaries in ELT conferences and events worldwide.**

Why?   The time is right. Good progress has been made already in the fight for parity for women and highly proficient L1 / L2 speakers. Now is the time to take it one step further and to recognise the great strides being made globally.

Who?  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 (Oxford, UK)  and Sue Leather (Vancouver, Canada) in summer 2017 and was born in early 2018.

They are joined in the team by Henrick Oprea (Brasilia, Brazil), Aleksandra Popovski (Skopje, Macedonia) Adam Simpson (Istanbul, Turkey) and Elaine Chaves Hodgson (Cambridge, UK).

How?  EVE will 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 L1 / L2 parity (even) or near parity (odd). Organisations are encouraged to contact us with the finalised line-ups for their forthcoming events, if they wish to be considered for inclusion in the calendar. ** For the gender category, we will only be including events not taking place in the UK. Any UK events will be referred to The Fair List.

*Note that plenaries include panels and other featured speakers.

The organisers of conferences or events who achieve these ratios will then be invited to display one of our three EVE badges (purple , green or Platinum) on their conference page. There will also be a link to their event page on the EVE Calendar.

It is important to note, however, that the EVE team recognises that there are factors involved when organising a conference or event that can make balance difficult to achieve, even when desirable. For this reason, we do not ‘frown upon’ line-ups where parity has not been achieved, or condone criticism of such line-ups, as quality of content is always above and beyond demographics. Furthermore, we trust that no teachers association would forego quality for a badge. However, in most cases, parity is achievable when supported by all involved, and EVEs are awarded in recognition of the support given by the event’s sponsors, as well as the efforts made by an event’s organisers.

Who inspires us?  We have been inspired, first and foremost, 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.

Finally, we would like to thank Mike Harrison for his invaluable coding skills and his help creating the EVE Calendar, and Ian James, who took the photograph (available at eltpics) used as the basis of the EVE logo and ‘badges’. The original image is of handrails on steps: symmetry and support ‘onwards and upwards’, one step at a time.

*The term we are using here is not a term used generally, elsewhere. It is based on the term used by BrELT, who were the first association, with TESOLSpain, to be recognised with a Platinum EVE. As most people agree, the terms native speaker, non-native speaker, NEST and NNEST are not appropriate in today’s world (or probably yesterday’s), but we have found it tricky to come up with a better term. We hope we offend no-one with the term we have created; our intention behind the green and Platinum EVEs is clear to us, however: we should all be considered equally, no matter what our first language was.