The AAO made progress in diversifying its selection of speakers for the 2023 Annual Session by using a new open call application process.

The American Association of Orthodontists reports that its multi-year effort to increase gender diversity among Annual Session speakers is producing positive results, and it credits a new selection process that aims to broaden speaker demographics and find new talent.

The new speaker selection process was instituted for the 2023 Annual Session by the AAO Committee on Conferences (CCON). The goals of the new process, according to the AAO, include not only increasing speaker diversity, but also attracting new talent to AAO programs and providing improved, exclusive and differentiated CE to attendees.

CCON, established in 2020, is charged with planning all future AAO meetings starting with the 2023 Winter Conference. Its work fulfills the role previously filled by individual meeting planning committees.

Last year, CCON introduced a new process designed to help increase the committee’s awareness of well-qualified speakers who might have been overlooked in the past. The AAO distributed an online open call portal worldwide for interested parties applying to speak at the 2023 Annual Session.

Results of the completed open call process were positive, according to the AAO, with 88% of speakers who were selected by CCON to speak at the 2023 Annual Session having applied via the speakers’ application portal.

CCON members reportedly found that using the Open Call process helped remove bias in selecting speakers and enabled viewing of the full complement of speakers who applied and data concerning applicants.

Speakers are currently signing contracts and finalizing lecture titles, with finalized information about the 2023 Annual Session CE program to appear online this fall.

According to the AAO, preliminary data indicates that the 2023 Annual Session will feature 25.2% female speakers.

The percentage includes all CE content categories, which are also changing for the 2023 Annual Session to include Innovations and Tech Talk, Scientific Advances, Clinical Techniques, Business Success, and Inspiration and Well-Being. In the Scientific Advances and Clinical Techniques categories exclusively, the combined percentage of female speakers will be 25.5%.

The 2023 Annual Session will also feature 26.2% new speakers, also across all content categories. Work toward increasing diversity of speakers will continue through the open call process for 2024 meetings. CCON is committed to ongoing strong support of these efforts.

“As part of the AAO’s commitment to inclusion and engagement, we want to be sure that we are providing everyone with professional speaking opportunities as members advance in their careers and are ready for these high-profile activities,” said Lynne Thomas Gordon, AAO chief executive officer. “As women increasingly make up a large portion of our membership, we need to ensure we are extending these opportunities to them. The new application process for speakers is helping us continue to move the needle in this area.”

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