Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives at ISMIR 2021

Originally published at https://ismir2021.ismir.net/blog/diversity_inclusion/ on September 5, 2021 by Blair Kaneshiro, Jordan B. L. Smith, Jin Ha Lee, and Alexander Lerch.

The 22nd International Society for Music Information Retrieval Conference (ISMIR2021) is excited to announce a number of Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) initiatives for this year’s conference. These initiatives are aimed toward ensuring a positive and supportive conference environment while also supporting a diverse range of presenters and attendees across backgrounds, career stages, and MIR research areas. This year’s efforts, facilitated by the online format of ISMIR2021, expand upon the numerous Women in Music Information Retrieval (WiMIR) initiatives that have taken place at ISMIR conferences over the past decade, and represent a broadening of how the MIR community views and supports D&I in the field.

This year’s D&I efforts are led by ISMIR2021 D&I Chairs Blair Kaneshiro (Stanford University, US) and Jordan B. L. Smith (ByteDance/TikTok, UK) in close collaboration with the ISMIR2021 General Chairs Jin Ha Lee (University of Washington, US) and Alexander Lerch (Georgia Institute of Technology, US), but it is the efforts of all the ISMIR2021 Organizers that make these initiatives possible. In this blog post we summarize the various D&I initiatives planned for ISMIR2021.

Code of Conduct

Since 2018, a Code of Conduct has accompanied the ISMIR conference. It is prepared by the conference organizers in conjunction with the ISMIR Board and is intended to ensure that the conference environment — whether in person or virtual — is a safe and inclusive space for all participants. In 2020 the Code of Conduct was updated for the first ever virtual ISMIR. All ISMIR2021 participants agree, at time of registration, to adhere to this year’s Code of Conduct.

Registration fees and financial support

To maximize the accessibility of the ISMIR2021 conference for students, the student registration fee is only $15 USD at the early-bird rate (until September 30) and $25 USD thereafter; and the student tutorial fee is just $5. These low rates are subsidized by generous ISMIR2021 sponsor contributions and full (non-student) registrations.

In addition to reduced registration fees, ISMIR2021 offers registration waivers and childcare support to a broad range of attendees. The ISMIR conference has a long history of offering student travel grants to cover conference registration and lodging. Since 2016, the conference has offered WiMIR grants as well, which provide financial assistance to women of any career stage to attend the conference. The ISMIR2019 conference expanded financial support opportunities once more to include Community grants for former and prospective MIR community members, and the ISMIR2020 conference offered childcare grants as well as Black in MIR registration waivers for the first time.

This year, the low cost of attending the conference, combined with generous sponsor support, enables the ISMIR2021 conference to once again provide a wide range of grants. Registration grants are available to students, unaffiliated attendees (anyone who has no professional affiliation that will cover the registration fee), and to attendees who self-identify with a broad range of D&I categories including Black in MIR, attendees from low- or middle-income countries, “New to ISMIR” presenter, Queer in MIR, and WiMIR. In addition, any attendee is eligible to apply for a childcare grant.

Details about ISMIR2021 grant eligibility and the application process are available here: https://bit.ly/ismir2021grants

D&I blog posts

This year’s D&I initiatives also seek to address the “hidden curriculum” of navigating academia as well as STEM research. To this end, the ISMIR2021 organizers are authoring a number of blog posts on such topics as preparing a successful ISMIR submission and reviewing ISMIR papers, as well as reposting relevant content from the WiMIR blog. Upcoming blog posts will include an introduction to ISMIR2021 Newcomer Initiatives and community advice on navigating the conference. Visit the ISMIR2021 blog page (maintained by Qhansa Bayu (Social Media Chair; Telkom University, ID) and Ashvala Vinay (Website Chair; Georgia Institute of Technology, US)) to stay up to date!

Special call for papers on “Cultural Diversity in MIR”

This year, the conference organizers wanted to promote the cultural diversity of the ISMIR community and its research. To this end, the ISMIR2021 Call for Papers included a special call, for papers on “Cultural Diversity in MIR”. This year’s Scientific Chairs — Zhiyao Duan (University of Rochester, US), Juhan Nam (KAIST, KR), Preeti Rao (IIT Bombay, IN), and Peter van Kranenburg (Meertens Institute, NL) — organized the track with a focus on non-Western music and cross-cultural studies. Submissions to this track underwent the same review process as papers in the main track, with specially selected meta-reviewers.

In all, 44 papers were submitted to this track, of which 11 were accepted and verified by the Scientific Chairs to match the call. Accepted papers in this track will be presented in the same format as other accepted papers, with recognition on the conference website and the institution of a special paper award for the themed track.

Special Late-Breaking/Demo (LBD) “New to ISMIR” track

The Late-Breaking/Demo (LBD) session, involving short-format papers which undergo light peer review, has long served as a venue for new or junior researchers to gain a foothold in the MIR community. The ISMIR2021 LBD chairs — Li Su (Academia Sinica, TW), Chih-Wei Wu (Netflix, US), and Siddharth Gururani (Electronic Arts, US) — present a new special track called “New to ISMIR”. In this track, first-time ISMIR attendees, students, WiMIR community members, and underrepresented minorities have the opportunity to receive extra mentoring on their LBD submissions. Presenters in this track are strongly encouraged to apply for a registration waiver as well. More information can be found in the full Call for LBDs.

Newcomer Initiatives

Navigating a new conference can be challenging in the best of times, but is especially difficult in the virtual format. The ISMIR2021 Newcomer Initiatives Chairs — Nick Gang (Apple, US) and Elona Shatri (Queen Mary University of London, UK) — are organizing a number of initiatives to help newcomers navigate the conference; meet other attendees; and establish social and professional connections to help them achieve their academic, research, and career aims during and beyond the conference. Announcements on these initiatives are coming soon!

WiMIR Sponsorship

Since 2016, industry sponsors have contributed specifically to WiMIR, typically by funding WiMIR travel grants and/or hosting WiMIR-themed receptions during the conference. These initiatives increase access to the ISMIR conference for women of all career stages, and also provide a designated setting for women and other attendees to network during the conference.

We express our sincere thanks to this year’s WiMIR sponsors, whose contributions support the various D&I initiatives described here, and to the ISMIR2021 Sponsorship Chairs: Sertan Şentürk (Kobalt Music, UK), Alia Morsi (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, ES), and Lamtharn “Hanoi” Hantrakul (ByteDance/TikTok, CN).

If your company would like to participate as a WiMIR sponsor, more information can be found on the ISMIR2021 Call for Sponsors page.

WiMIR Plenary Session

WiMIR began meeting informally at ISMIR conferences starting at ISMIR2011. After a few years of ad-hoc meetings organized by interested attendees, a WiMIR plenary session was incorporated into the main ISMIR conference program starting in 2015. Since then, WiMIR sessions have included presentations on the WiMIR Mentoring Program as well as community and invited keynote presentations. This year’s WiMIR plenary session will include an invited keynote speaker to be announced soon!

WiMIR Meetup Sessions

While the virtual conference format has posed challenges when it comes to offering the range and serendipity of interactions experienced in person, it also offers opportunities to try out new formats to bring attendees together — not only for formal research presentations, but also for informal discussions. Last year, the ISMIR2020 conference for the first time included WiMIR-themed meetup sessions throughout the conference. These sessions, centered around the theme of “Notable Women in MIR”, gave conference attendees the chance to meet informally with women in the field and discuss topics ranging from career paths to technical details of their research.

This year, the ISMIR2021 conference is expanding upon the format of these sessions to include a range of underrepresented communities in MIR. More information on these special meetup sessions will be announced in coming months.

WiMIR Workshop

The WiMIR Workshop has taken place annually since 2018 as a satellite event of the ISMIR conference. The goal of the WiMIR Workshop is to provide a venue for mentorship, networking, and collaboration among women and allies in the ISMIR community. The Workshop took place as an in-person one-day event in 2018 and again in 2019, and migrated to a virtual format in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2021, the WiMIR 4th Annual Workshop will take place virtually on Friday, October 29 and Saturday, October 30. It is a free event open to all members of the MIR community, and will include events for all time zones. The speaker lineup and schedule will be announced soon!

Other ISMIR Community D&I Initiatives

The D&I initiatives of ISMIR2021 are part of a larger ecosystem of ISMIR community initiatives. For more information on these initiatives, and to stay up to date on what is happening with the ISMIR2021 conference and the community at large, visit the following resources:

See you at ISMIR2021 in November!

Blair Kaneshiro (Stanford University, USA) and Jordan B. L. Smith (ByteDance, UK) are the Diversity & Inclusion Chairs of the ISMIR2021 Conference. Jin Ha Lee (University of Washington, USA) and Alexander Lerch (Georgia Institute of Technology, USA) are the General Chairs of the ISMIR2021 Conference. ISMIR2021 will take place as a virtual conference from November 4-8, 2021.


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