The EVE Issues Blog

EVE at IATEFL 2019

EVE was very much in evidence at IATEFL in April 2019!

We had two main events which we describe below: firstly, the awards for EVEs of the Year, and secondly, Sue’s workshop outlining the gains made in 2018 and our plans for the future.

Part One: EVEs of the Year

Starting with EVEs of the Year, on Wednesday 3rd April, we gave out our very first awards!

The idea behind these awards is to recognise organisations and people who have made a significant contribution to our cause over the past year. They are chosen from the entire year’s calendar (see We had originally intended to give out three awards, but in the event, we chose six organisations who had gone above and beyond. We also chose five individuals who had really helped us with our take-off.

Winners were invited to the Pilgrims stand in the Exhibition Centre, which Jim Wright kindly allowed us to take over for half an hour.

EVE of the Year certificates were given to:

  • JALT Sendai

Why did they receive an EVE of the year?  Japan is a difficult context for gender parity and it’s good to see men organising an event there that achieves gender parity.

  • The 17th Regent’s University London & Trinity College London, 3rd Future of English Language Teaching Conference, London, UK.

Why did they receive an EVE of the year? This conference had issues achieving parity in 2017 and received a lot of criticism.  They reacted positively to the criticism they got, learned a lot and managed to achieve gender parity.

  • EFL Talks

Why did they receive an EVE of the year? EFL Talks achieved L1/L2 parity across a huge number of talks and in a commemorative  event in which all speakers women, although organised by an L1 man.

  • IATEFL Chile XV International Conference, Santiago, Chile 

Why did they receive an EVE of the year?  IATEFL Chile was awarded a special award for L1/L2 parity and also for sourcing most of their speakers from the region rather than flying several overseas experts in, thus supporting and valuing local professionals.

  • IATEFL Brighton 2018 and its SIGs. We also issued a number of EVEs to the SIGs, as you can see from the 2018 calendar. 

Why did they receive an EVE of the year?   For its long-term dedication to diversity, inclusion, its line-up of plenary speakers, and its SIGs, many of which also were recognised with EVEs. We recognise that IATEFL has been a standard-bearer for equality and diversity.

  • TESOL Spain 

Why did they receive an EVE of the year?  Apart from their line-up, TESOL Spain have a written policy against discrimination on their website stating their rejection of the native speaker only job adverts that are common in our profession. It’s been there a while and is cutting edge in that respect.   

EVE of the Year certificates were also given to the following individuals (in alphabetical order):

  • David Valente – for being an IATEFL fireball, and a tireless supporter on social media.
  • Gabriel Diaz Maggioli – for his general stance towards all-male panels, his nagging conference organisers and his general support.
  • Jen Dobson – for being really on the ball re referring conferences to us, for badgering organisers in Spain, and for spreading the word.

  • Marjorie Rosenberg – for being the main reason IATEFL got involved and being key to EVE making a significant impact.
  • Parisa Mehran – for being a tireless supporter and promoter, especially on social media.

Here are some photos of the awards event:

Gabriel Diaz Maggioli receives his EVE of the Year certificate

Sarah Mount receiving an EVE of the Year on behalf of IATEFL 2018

Birgit Stortmann of TESOL Spain 

TESOL Spain’s certificate

Part Two: Equal Voices in ELT Expanding our Horizons  (IATEFL Workshop)

Sue Leather

Despite being scheduled in the very last time slot of the conference before the closing plenary, my workshop was well-attended, with participants from India, Mexico, Iran, Uruguay, South Africa, Australia, the US, Japan, Greece, Morocco and the UK!

To start off, I described what EVE is and what it does. I noted the importance of The Fair List, TEFL Equity Advocates, Women in ELT and Silvana Richardson’s 2016 IATEFL Plenary ‘The Native Factor: the haves and the have nots’ in inspiring and informing EVE.

Sue Leather – IATEFL 2019

I then gave an overview of EVE’s first year. With almost 40 events in 14 countries, the year was busy and fruitful. I showed a slide of the countries where conferences were awarded EVEs, and participants were invited to see if their own country was represented.

Countries awarded an EVE in 2018

I underlined how supportive the ELT community has been in the last year. EVE now has 200 individual ‘friends’ on its website, and a number of organisational supporters, such as Pilgrims.

Participants were asked to discuss their own contexts in groups, and to talk about issues of parity. They talked about the steps that they could take individually to improve the situation.  A number of interesting points came out of the discussions. A delegate from Iran, for example, said that in scientific conferences in Iran, women were much better represented in plenary line-ups.

Participants in the workshop

I then went on to talk about EVE’s plans for the next year, which include more outreach to countries not yet represented, more Tweetchats, EVEs of the Year, and developing our blog.

I finished off by talking about how the participants could help EVE. Ideas included talking about EVE to their colleagues, following EVE on Facebook and Twitter, becoming a friend, writing a blog about their context and supporting EVE with a badge on their website. I also told the participants how EVE can help them in their efforts to achieve equality: by sharing a list of women/L2 plenary speakers, by publicising their efforts, and providing a list of mentors for women speakers. I stressed the fact that EVE is always happy to hear from people trying to work for equality in conference line-ups, and to give any advice we can.


Blog Guidelines

EVE aims at recognising both gender and highly proficient speaker parity in keynotes and plenaries in ELT conferences and events worldwide.

We would like to invite you to share your views and experiences on this issue and help raise awareness of its importance. The guidelines below can help you frame your article, but should not be seen as inflexible. What we want is to make your voice heard.

  • Write about an experience or about your thoughts related to gender and/or native English speakers and speakers of other languages.
  • Don’t forget to credit quotes or any information which is not your own to the correct source.
  • Include a short bio (i.e. 30-50 words) and a recent photo so that readers can know more about you.
  • Don’t forget to add your contact information such as links to personal pages and/or e-mails you would like to make public.

All articles are subject to approval by the EVE board. They will be edited and proofread prior to posting and the final version will be sent to you for your approval.


We look forward to hearing from you!

Check our website and follow us on Facebook and Twitter to see your work posted!

Changing my name to get ahead in ELT

These days many ELT professionals and initiatives are trying to fight the NS-NNS discrimination, EVE included, but it seems we still have a long way to go. Why am I saying this?

I was recently told I should change my name, anglicize it if I wanted to be published since I was a non-native speaker of English. My name suggested that my English proficiency was not satisfactory if I wanted to be a writer, a published author. I was stunned, baffled, speechless. I didn’t know whether  the person was serious or simply joking with me. Unfortunately, the NS was serious.

Well, I am sorry my dear native speaker ‘friend’, my name is part of my identity as a person and as an ELT professional. What if I asked you to change your name, make it sound less British or American if you wanted to be published, asked to deliver a talk, or simply be a teacher?How would that make you feel?

It reminds me of the quote from Braine (1999) “Although most native speaker colleagues are supportive, some administrators and colleagues appear to view English language teaching as the sole domain of native speakers. This attitude is highly ironic, considering our profession’s strident championing of multiculturalism, diversity, and other worthy sociopolitical causes, often on behalf of ESL students and immigrants.”

This attitude needs to change, not just in regard to teaching, but also writing. How many books have you read that were written by speakers of other languages who wrote/write in English? I can name a few –Roald Dahl,Haruki Murakami, Vladimir Nabokov… For me writing in another language is a challenge, linguistic and personal. It’s the allure of new words and phrases that  prompts me to write in English. Writing in another language also provides me with the opportunity  to look at things from a different perspective, perhaps in a way I would never look at them. As a proficient speaker of three different languages (I use them on daily basis so there is a lot of code switching for my brain) I change my personality depending on which of the three languages I am using at that moment. It’s the same with writing. I can write differently about the same thing depending on the language I am using.

So, the question is:

Will changing my name make me a better writer of English and thus more appealing to the publishing world?

My answer: I don’t think so.

But I have some other questions as well.

After all the plenary talks, presentations, workshops on this topic, are we still really not aware of the fact that we can no longer talk about NS and NNS but only about professional qualifications, content knowledge, and overall professionalism? Are we really still that narrow-minded? Haven’t we learnt anything?

My answer: Maybe not.

And no, I’m not changing my name.

Aleksandra Popovski

Braine, G. (1999). Nonnative English Speakers in TESOL Caucus formed. TESOL Matters, 9(1), 1-2.

How to Get More Women to Apply to Speak at a Conference



For our second blog post, EVE are delighted to be able to share with you this Tweetchat summary by Parisa Mehan. 5

Parisa Mehran is a PhD student at an AR lab, Osaka University, Japan. Born and raised in Tehran, Iran, she holds a BA in English Language and Literature and an MA in TEFL. She currently teaches part-time at Konan Women’s University and Kobe City University of Foreign Studies.

Handing over to Parisa:

I’ll be holding a pre-conference workshop on Augmented and Virtual Realities in ELT this year and the line-up is not gender-balanced (12 presenters and two are women). I decided to apply because I knew that women usually do not present at these edtech workshops. I submitted my proposal, it was accepted, and I’ll be presenting!

I sent a message to EVECalendar (Equal Voices in ELT_ on their Facebook page and asked them to help me find ways how to get more women to apply to speak at a conference, especially CALL-related conferences which are mainly male-dominant, as I am in touch with some conference organizers who really want to make their conferences gender balanced. Then, Fiona Mauchline, co-founder of EVECalendar, responded on Twitter, mentioned her colleagues, and we had a chat about this topic.

Here is a summary of the chat.

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How do we get more women to apply to speak at (ELT tech) conferences?

Sue Lyon-Jones (@esolcourses_sue)

How about not expecting people to ‘pay to present’? For people who aren’t funded, the cost of attending conferences can be a barrier to participation. Presenting at conferences can add to the cost, both directly and indirectly – particularly for freelancers.

Andy Hockley (@adhockley)

  1. Encourage women directly(when you meet someone doing interesting work, ask them to consider speaking, telling others).
  2. If they are nervous about presenting, give them support, advice. The IATEFL Leadership and Management SIG (LAMSIG) had a webinar with the FairList on this:
  3. If there are “cultural barriers” to women travelling to conferences (for example), try and make the conferences go to different places. If they can’t come to conferences, can conferences come to them? 
  4. Don’t be afraid to use affirmative action. If you have to choose between two talks to include on the programme, and there isn’t much between them, choose the one given by a woman.

Sophia Mavridi (@SophiaMav)

There ARE indeed fewer women in tech. It’s usually men who put themselves forward, write books, become “names” and plenary speakers. Two reasons in my opinion:

  1. The “male computer geek” stereotype and unconscious bias. It starts at school and continuous indefinitely. The edtech expert has to prove her “geeky” self all the time.
  2. The fear of being a minority in an environment that is notoriously male-dominated is another serious barrier for many female colleagues. You have to become comfortable with it otherwise you just won’t survive.

As a conference organiser, I have to admit it is not always easy to find edtech women speakers. It takes conscious and ongoing effort but that’s the only way to make things happen. We DO need more women in edtech: Plenary speakers, book writers, app developers, and consultants.

And we do need to spread the word and have more discussions like this one and like the super #EVELT tweetchat organised by EVE (@eve_elt) and IATEFL LT SIG (@iatefl_ltsig). You can find some highlights from #EVELT here ( I think it starts from plenary speakers lineups. They’re usually male dominated (few women experts/ book writers etc. in edtech and other reasons I mentioned earlier) so you need to make a conscious effort as an organiser. If women see that plenary lineups are more balanced and there are more and more women who are acknowledged and appreciated as edtech experts, they are more likely to put themselves forward as speakers.

Julie Moore (@lexicojules)

I’m speaking at a corpus linguistics conf next month, includes some ELT and I’d def say tech-ish … 2 out of 3 plenaries are female and at a rough glance, probably more female than male speakers overall.

Nicola Prentis (@NicolaPrentis)

If the women’re the primary childcarer, ask if you can help with childcare for the day. It might only mean designating one person to stand with a baby at the back of the room for the talk. It might mean a crèche. Cover the child’s airfare if needed. Realise this can be a barrier.


In general, the process of how one to become plenary or featured speaker is opaque. I know people who just seem to get invited because they are well-known, and others petition for years to be invited to speak at conferences. So maybe speakers can share how they got to be speakers?

Efi Tzouri (@efitzouri)

My personal experience has shown that women’s determination is the greatest source of inspiration!

Fiona Mauchline (@fionamau)

Thinking about it, many of the more prominent women in ELT/EdTech are from or in Greece. You must be doing something right. Perhaps it’s a sense of community that helps and encourages?

Here are the answers to Fiona’s question for Greece-based ELT researchers:

Dimitris Primalis (@dprimalis)

We have a good record in Greece! As Tesol Greece chairman, I invited Eva Buyuksimkesyan to present on LT on TG’s very first webinar in 2013. The tradition continues with many excellent women LT speakers, some of whom often present at big international conferences.

Inviting excellent teachers to share their experience with the rest of the community encourages them to present their work. It usually takes one or two presentations and after that they act autonomously.

ChristinaC (@Kryftina)

We do see many women here giving f2f talks & workshops on tech/elt. I think encouragement starts during training and shapes further during practice. Community is certainly very strong here and there is great support, both from associations and individuals.

jenjdobson (@jenjdobson)

There’s quite a lot of healthy debate currently about positive discrimination in ELT. I ‘grew up’ as a young adult in a 1980s London culture when this was the norm in my work circles. Am slightly perplexed why people don’t get it. Also use #womenintech just got retweeted by @womentechbot created by @sarahmorris926. Maybe outside of ELT they can give us some insights?

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Summary first published in Parisa’s blog Diary of a Technophile and an Equity Advocate. Use of bold above, Parisa’s own.

How getting knocked back helped me take a stand



by Hugh Dellar

Last year, I spoke at the first International Language Symposium in Brno in the Czech Republic. Prior to the conference, I’d agreed with the organisers that I’d be doing a plenary and a workshop and then thought little else about it until a few days before I was due to leave, when I ran through my sessions and made sure I was ready.

Once there, I was asked if I’d take part in a panel discussion that would bring the first day to a close. I agreed and at 6pm found myself sitting on a stage next to Jeremy Harmer, Philip Kerr, Huw Jarvis, and Stephen Krashen. The session was based on questions from the audience.

Before bed that night, I had a quick look at Twitter and found that a photo of the panel had elicited angry responses: “The old white man lineup strikes again”, one began, before asking “What are your excuses this time?”

When attacked like this, my immediate response is to kick back. I railed against the idea I was old, I reasoned that as a lower-class kid myself I’d hardly been handed privilege on a silver plate, I noted that I’d only agreed to do the panel at the last minute and anyway, the discussion had been popular, OK?

In the end, though, another Tweet hit me hard. “Privilege is intersectional”, it read, “and you can be privileged in some regards and lack privilege in others. White male panels are a systemic problem.”

This rang true and allowed me to step back and ponder how I could be part of the solution. Around the world, ELT is a female-dominated profession, yet male-only panels are still conceptualised and allowed to come into existence.

Much has already been done to raise awareness of these issues, but more is desperately needed. Whilst it clearly needs angry voices shouting from the sidelines, it also needs men with at least some degree of power to do more than simply play gesture politics or write defensive blog posts.

What my co-author Andrew Walkley and I decided was simple: henceforth, we’ll refuse to take part in male-only panels.

In an ideal world, we’re told before a conference if we’re expected to be on a panel. At this point, we can ask if a gender balance has been considered and explain our red line re. participation. This in itself will hopefully change things, but if, by some chance, we end up being asked on the day or turn up to find we’re still only sitting next to men, we’ll simply politely refuse to take part and suggest our place go to a female speaker instead. Should this occur, you’ll know as we’ll tweet about it.

If every man in ELT does the same, male-only panels in our professions immediately become a thing of the past.

We hope this persuades a few more to take a similar stand.