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Women in Standards is an enthusiastic network of standards professionals who provide support, resources, and mentoring to promote business and personal growth.



Members and friends, 
The month of March is Women’s History Month, a celebration of the women who have contributed to innovation, science, research, and standardization and in so many other areas to build a strong framework and infrastructure for our continued success.
For all those who identify as women, we salute you for your contributions both big and small, to creating a supportive community for all Women in Standards members.
When speaking with groups they ask me, is Women in Standards just for women? And I say no. Women have the unique perspective of knowing what it is like to be ignored in meetings, overlooked in meetings, to have our accomplishments minimized and our ideas stolen. Women in Standards is not an organization just for women, it is an organization that uses the experiences of women to advocate for all under-represented people to have a voice in standards development, because each and every voice can make all the difference.
And so, as we close out the month of March, I #ChooseToChallenge myself and others to speak up when a gendered term is used, when an idea is ignored, when a hand is raised and not called on. We as a community can work together to build an equal future for all who want to participate in standards. Join our committee on Inclusiveness in Standards in developing case studies, stories, guides, and resources.
Join our committee on Education in development training and learning tools to help volunteers enhance their standards skillsets, and join our events committee in coordinating community building opportunities. Join us for a happy hour, attend a coffee corner, and embrace the community made for and by you.
Invite your colleagues, man, women, or other, to join Women in Standards and help us build a community of inclusion and diversity for standards development. 
Warm wishes,
Karin Athanas
Executive Officer
Women in Standards
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Integrating Gender-Neutral Terms   
Being Inclusive Begins with Language

The use of gendered terms act to maintain gender imbalances by discouraging individuals not of that gender from pursuing careers in those fields or by suggesting through language that those occupations are performed by men.
If reaching out to women using predominantly masculine gendered language, a 2011 study from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology indicates that women will activity avoid applying, seeing the opportunity as ‘for men’ and therefore not a good fit for them.
When seeking volunteers to participate in standards development, it is therefore doubly important for standards developers to craft their outreach to use gender-neutral terms in addition to other approach such as direct outreach to certain under-represented groups.
In our August 2020 article entitled Inclusive Language in Standards Development, it’s noted that the language used “will determine whether the reader can see themselves performing those same actions.”
To address this issue, organizations should evaluate the language used not only in their calls for standards volunteers, but also on their websites, social media, and other documentation. This will ensure that applicants visiting the website, reviewing the call for volunteers, or reading about the organization projects and other activities will see language that is inclusive to them.
Language that suggests that one gender is the default and others are an exception can be revised to gender-neutral options. Chairman can be revised to Chair. The phrase himself or herself can be changed to themself. He or She changed to They. And so on. Ensuring that when a person serves in a role, the language used is appropriate regardless of the gender that person identifies with.
Another important step includes evaluating the process by which volunteer applications are considered and how leadership positions are filled. If your process includes a review of letters of recommendation, that same 2011 study identified that “writers used more “standout words” (e.g., outstanding, unique) when describing male than female candidates.”
A similar study by Harvard Business Review found that more positive words such as competent and dependable were used to describe men while more negative ones such as inept and passive were used to describe women. When comparing the positive words used for both men and women, men were described using positive words seen as beneficial to company goals such as ‘analytical’ and ‘confident’ while women were described positively in regards to culture such as ‘compassionate’ and ‘energetic.’
Due to this, strong woman candidates may be scoring lower or being seen as less qualified as male applicants due to the propensity for others to minimize their skill set.
By establishing language sets that are gender-neutral, applying them throughout your organization, and ensuring the evaluation process considered the imbalanced language used to describe the skillsets of men and women, positive changes can be made to create more inclusive environments.

Helpful Links on Inclusion, Equity, and Diversity

10 Gender Inclusive Terms You Can Start Using Now

Using Gender-Inclusive Language in Standards

Inclusion in Standards, the 2020 survey

Call to Action on Standards

Diversity is a Long-term Plan, Not a Short-term Solution
What Does it Mean to Build Consensus?

By Karen Reczek, Social Scientist within the Standards Coordination Office (SCO) at the National Institute of Standards & Technology

In standards developing, one of the key guiding principles is “consensus.”  In my experience, this is an often-misunderstood concept. Consensus is NOT unanimity. It does not mean everyone agrees or loves it. What it does mean is that everyone can live with it.

According to Dr. Tim Hartnett, writing in Consensus Decision Making, the goals of consensus are:
  • “Better Decisions: Through including the input of all stakeholders, the resulting proposals can best address all potential concerns.
  • Better Implementation: A process that includes and respects all parties, and generates as much agreement as possible sets the stage for greater cooperation in implementing the resulting decisions.
  • Better Group Relationships: A cooperative, collaborative group atmosphere fosters greater group cohesion and interpersonal connection.
Despite its benefits, consensus building is not easy. It takes time, effort, and commitment to make the process work.” [1]

[1] “The Basics of Consensus Decision Making” by Tim Hartnett, Ph.D., Consensus Facilitation,

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During this interactive event, Dr. Tim Nicholas Rühlig, Research Fellow at The Swedish Institute of International Affairs will present his work on the "Geopolitics of Standards," a project which aims to enhance the knowledge and awareness around the increasing involvement of countries in international standardization.
Committee Updates

The Inclusiveness in Standards committee met on March 12th and approved the nomination of Teshia Payne to serve as Vice Chair of the committee. In addition, two task groups have been formed. The first will work to identify essential terminology and resource publications to support discussions of inclusiveness in standards. The second will be working to identify external ally groups and speaker and education opportunities, and will be identifying areas for case study initiatives. The committee is seeking a recording secretary. 
Next Meeting: 16 April 2021, 11am EST

The Education Committee met on March 19th and reviewed next steps in the development of educational content for standards volunteers just entering the world of standards development. This content, once completed, will be freely available on the Women in Standards website and will include videos, downloadable content, and other educational resources. 
Next Meeting: April, Currently being scheduled

The Events Coordination Committee met on March 5th to discuss plans for the 2022 Annual Dinner and virtual events through out 2021. A proposal to move the date of the annual dinner to late spring and also to include in 2022 a virtual event option for international members is being considered. 
Next Meeting: April, Currently being scheduled

Committees are open to all Women in Standards members, visitors may also attend upon request.
Member Activities

March was Women's History Month and the month was filled with celebrations of Women leaders and pioneers in science, research, innovation and more. IFAN celebrated standards volunteers with a virtual panel on International Women's Day, March 8th, and the IEC has been posting tributes to IEC women leaders throughout the month. 

Women in Standards was featured in the March IFAN newsletter and Women in Standards Executive Officer, Karin Athanas, presented on March 9th at the National Women in Construction Week, Lunch and Learn hosted by the Women in Code Enforcement and Development.

Karin Athanas also co-lead, in partnership with Peter Gaydon, Technical Director at the Hydraulic Institute, a training session held on The Role and Importance of Standards as part of the Hydraulic Institute (HI) training series.

Do you have news to share about your member activities? Reach out to to submit your article for consideration.
The work of the organization would not be possible without the dedication of our volunteers, sponsors, and donors. If you'd like to support our work, consider providing a tax-deductible donation or becoming a WiS sponsor today.
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Participate in an educational presentation and voice your thoughts on standards development. 

Submit an article for publication in the WiS E-news.

Follow the Women in Standards on LinkedIn and Facebook and get up-to-date information on new standards activities - events, committees, and federal programs.

Participate in online chats on issues of standards and raising the voice and participation of women in standards. 

Gain life-long friends, champions, and mentors within the standards community. 
How to Deliver Bad News to Your Committee

Tips to Successfully Prepare and Deliver Bad News

As a committee leader or officer, delivering bad news to your committee and individual members comes with the job. While serving in your leadership role, individual members may apply for a new leadership role and ask for your support or your committee may propose a new work project or would like to host an event. If these requests are denied, you may be asked to deliver that news to your member or committee and being prepared, clear and direct, and ready to discuss next steps is essential.
Plan and Prepare
Whenever you find yourself needing to give your committee or members bad news, take time to prepare and gain objectivity. Understanding the decision that was made, who made it, why it was made and deciding on the language that you will use as the leader to convey the message. Sometimes the denial is part of a larger organizational change, understanding the change and sharing this with members will help them better understand the bigger picture.
Run through your delivery and practice several times to ensure that you feel comfortable with the language selected and the message.
You as the leader must balance the need to empathize with members, but also convey that the decision is final. If a committee feels that you don’t support the decision, they may push back to demand the decision be reconsidered. This does not ultimately support the organization or ensure the committee can effectively continue its work and so it’s important to deliver the message objectively and clearly to ensure those listening understand that it is final.
Call a Meeting
Do not delay in delivering the news to your members. If you wait too long or avoid answering questions, you can cause your members to lose trust in you. If calling a last-minute meeting may be too difficult, email can be used, but over video or in person is preferred to ensure members can share their thoughts, feelings and express themselves with others in the group. During this time, your role is to listen, make note of their feelings. Bad news is bad, it doesn’t make people happy. Expect your members to be upset and allow them time to share their frustrations, but remember not to agree or commiserate with them. It’s your role to deliver the message and ensure all understand that while they may not be happy with it, it is final.
Discuss Next Steps
After members have been provided time to share their thoughts and frustrations, ask them about next steps. Share our recording on Navigating Change in the Time of Uncertainty, and ask them what pivot they can make in response to the bad news. If they proposed a project that was denied, discuss the reasons and what they can learn for future proposals. If an individual wasn’t selected for a leadership position, was it because they had less leadership experience than other candidates or they hadn’t yet been a technical lead? Discuss how they can gain that experience or those skills sets to better prepare them to be considered next time. 
Remember that time is of the essence as bad news travels fast – but take the time to ensure you have considered what questions may be asked and that you have answers where possible.
Whatever the bad news, delivering it to your committee with clarity and poise is essential to supporting them in hearing it, digesting it, and moving forward.
Repeat as Needed
If speaking with the committee, not all members may be there. Some members may need more time to process the information and others may not have felt comfortable expressing themselves at the meeting. Follow-up with your group members one-on-one (multiple times if needed) to repeat the process to further help them to understand the decision, share their thoughts and frustrations, and think of the next steps.
Being the Chair or Officer of a committee takes strong leadership skills, the help of those around you, and requires that you balance being supportive and empathetic to your members while continuing to lead by making and communicating the hard decisions. By following these steps, you will be better prepared to deliver bad news and support your committee or members.

Checking In as a Management Strategy

Building a Positive Environment for Committee Member Engagement

Working with committees (also called consensus bodies) to develop standards can be difficult. Members may be located around the world and operate in vastly different time zones. Meetings may only be held once or a few times a year and members may find themselves with very little time to commit to volunteer activities such as developing standards. In Chairing an ISO Committee, we heard about the additional hurdles and difficulties in working with international groups including language barriers, politics, and meetings held at less that opportune times.

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The Women in Standards supports the professional development of its members. Here are a few positions currently available at standards developing organizations: Visit the Women in Standards Participant and Employment Opportunities page today, click here.
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