Like all people, geoscientists can sometimes forget the importance of language. How scientists use language is important because it not only allows us to communicate effectively with different groups, from policymakers to concerned citizens and other researchers, but it can also influence how people respond on an emotional or personal level. The way we use language can even influence how much some people feel they belong in geoscience.
But the way we use language can feel impossible to change, especially if that language is not our first one. Patterns of language can be so familiar we might not even recognise when we are saying something that is exclusive or even offensive. However, EGU believes that the first step to improvement is identifying the issue, so we have started a document to help our members and anyone else who is interested, to identify words and phrases that do not help us promote the safe space that we want EGU to be. The good thing is that language is always evolving and once we are aware of patterns of speaking that are not inclusive, it is only a matter of practice to change the way we use language, both in our science and as scientists.
This document is called ‘an incomplete guide’ because it is just that: incomplete. We really hope that our members will engage with this idea and send us more examples or information to be included in this guide. The incomplete guide to promoting inclusive language will be uploaded to our formal guidance on accessibility and inclusivity webpages, but we will be updating it regularly, so please get in touch with your suggestions.
This year EGU is taking additional steps to continue to improve the accessibility and inclusivity of its annual General Assembly. During the next few weeks we will be regularly posting information about the measures the Union is taking, tips and tricks for meeting attendees, and personal stories and advice from people with various experiences who have attended in previous years.
We are aware that this only represents the first step toward making our conference accessible to all, so if you have any ideas or advice for us on how to improve accessibility at the General Assembly, please tell us about them – we are willing to learn and keen to improve.