HOW TO [BE A BETTER] CHAIR [OF] AN ACADEMIC PANEL You didn’t choose the timing, the format or the speakers. You aren’t the organizer. But you’re the Chair. What now?

My colleague Dayna Scott and I have been thinking quite a bit about chairing of academic panels, having seen enough examples of how it can be done so as to exclude, shut out, shut down, and some shining examples of how it can be done so well.

We came up with this set of thoughts.  What do you think? Every time we ask someone they offer better ideas or incisive critique, so have at it in the comments or get at us via twitter @osgoodeifls  #FairChair


-sonia l

link will take you to PDF version

link will take you to PDF version



  1. Thanks for doing this, so helpful. I’ve been trying to encourage discussions about this at our law school.

    I’d add that when chairing I don’t always take people in the order they put up their hands. Because more confident folk are usually (though not always) more established, later in career, male identified – so I try to pause after I open up for questions/discussion, to wait a moment for the first question, to see if there is a female identified person I can ask, and I also try to take students and early career people before more established folks. I’ve had more established male academics literally waving their arms around in front of me as if I can’t see them while I am in this pause moment, so I now try to remember to explicitly say that’s what I am doing. I also keep a running list In front of me but I don’t always stick strictly to the order, eg if there are lots of questions in a row from professors and students or less established people are further down the list. I feel strongly that doing these sorts of things from the start sets a different time fit the conversation, and am always looking for more ways to open it up. So thank you for your work on this!

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