Women In Behavior Analysis Conference in 2017


By Emaley McCulloch, M.Ed, BCBA

bSci21 Contributing Writer

Women in Behavior Analysis (WIBA) is a behavior analytic conference coming March 9-10, 2017 to Nashville TN! Men and women who are interested in behavior analysis are encouraged to attend and show support at this inaugural event. The purpose of this conference is to highlight the accomplishments of women in the field, while also engaging both sexes in meaningful discourse about gender equality for the promotion of behavior analysis. 

As the field of behavior analysis has grown over the years, so has the number of female professionals and researchers. In 2001, women started to outnumber men in terms of ABAI membership. In 2015, 82.2% of Behavior Analyst Certification Board Certificants® we female, which is a 148% increase in female certificants in the past 15 years (Nosik & Grow, 2015). It’s not hard to see when attending ABA conferences that the men are outnumbered.  Although women outnumber men at conferences, they are often underrepresented in prestigious activities such as invited or keynote speakers (Simon, Morris & Smith, 2007) which is true for sciences in general (Cole, 1987).  This may be due to women participating in applied work more often than in research roles (Simon, et.al. 2007). At this point in time, there may be less prestige associated with applied work in behavior analysis.

WIBA will be the first conference to highlight the applied work and research contributions of women in our field. This event is being organized by Devon Sundberg, Kim Zoder-Martell and Sarah Cox from Indiana. The Facebook page was announced on May 10th and received over a thousand followers in one day! In an interview with the founders, they expressed interest in establishing WIBA as an organization or a Special Interest Group and will work with leaders in our field and from responses received at the conference to determine how WIBA can best be shaped in the future.

Another important mission of WIBA is to create mentorship opportunities between early career behavior analysts and experienced professionals. Devon Sundberg noted, “We believe that it is extremely important to ensure that women are respected as scientists and leaders in the field of behavior analysis. We also want to empower early career behavior analysts by highlighting the contributions of prolific women in the field and by providing support and mentorship to women who are new to the field.” There are so many amazing women mentors in our field that do not always get a place in the spotlight where we can all learn from them.

The keynote speakers for the upcoming event are Linda LeBlanc and Frances McSweeney. Additional speakers and a call for papers will be announced via Facebook and Twitter.

Are you excited about the WIBA conference? Who are some of the women in the field of Behavior Analysis that have inspired or shaped your career? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to subscribe to bSci21 via email to receive the latest articles directly to your inbox! See you all in Nashville!


Cole J.R. (1987) Women in science. In: Jackson D.N, Rushton J.P, editors. Scientific excellence: Origins and assessment. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage;  pp. 359–375.

Nosik, M.R., & Grow, L.L., (2015) Prominent Women in Behavior Analysis: An Introduction. The Behavior Analyst. 38: 225-227

Simon JL, Morris EK, Smith NG, (2007). Trends in women’s participation at the meetings of the Association for Behavior Analysis: 1975–2005. The Behavior Analyst 30:181–196

Emaley McCulloch, M.Ed, BCBA co-founded Autism Training Solutions, LLC in  2008, and is currently the Vice President of Relias Institute at Relias Learning. Relias Learning is the premier provider of online health care training for Health and Human Services, Senior Care and Public Safety. Emaley is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and holds an MA in Special Education. She has served in the field of ABA for over 18 years and has provided and overseen services to individuals between the ages of 18 months to 24 years in homes, schools and clinical settings. For eight years she served as a consultant and supervisor at agencies based in Hawaii and Japan where she trained groups of professionals and parents. Emaley’s passion is elearning, staff training, dissemination of evidenced-based interventions, research, film and videography and using technology in the field of behavior analysis and special education.  You can contact her at emcculloch@reliaslearning.com.

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8 Comments on "Women In Behavior Analysis Conference in 2017"

  1. Such a fantastic opportunity for us to celebrate those women who have shaped our professional careers in behavior analysis! I’d like to give a personal shout out to Dr. Yanerys Leon. She is a professor with Florida Institue of Technologys Masters of Professional Behavior Analysis hybrid program. I had the honor of learning from her while pursuing my masters degree.. She is a wonderful mentor and is currently conducting applied research in clinical areas. I think someone should request that she speak at WIBA 🙂 she’s great!

  2. Frances McSweeney’s work on habituation/sensitization in the operant conditioning paradigm is brilliant, and the basis of my thesis. I’d love to see her talk. However, I don’t really see myself being able to pull that off in March. This is a really cool event, though.

  3. Boy-Girl Wonder | June 12, 2016 at 11:40 am | Reply

    I would like to offer a criticism in hope that it is helpful, because the evidence that patriarchy is affecting the field of behavior analysis and science in general is strong.
    Please consider how to define “women” and how to talk about sex and gender. The author jokes about “both sexes” being invited, but sex (like the central nervous system) is a construct. Defining sex as binary excludes a multitude of people (including some behavior analysts) who have genetic or other physical characteristics that are intersexed or ambiguous for other reasons (see Anne Fausto-Stearling’s work for a more in-depth explanation of sex).
    I also encourage both the author and the organizers of the conference to discriminate between sex — the physical characteristics of a body (e.g., male, female, intersex)– and gender — the overt and covert behavior that a person does to be a particular gender (e.g., man, woman, nonbinary). Conflating these two discriminates against women who have male anatomy or DNA (i.e., transgender women). More importantly, a critical analysis of gender from a behavioral perspective will likely be more functional and allow a more in-depth analysis about the variables that influence the behavior of behavior analysts when it comes to gender (Please see the works of Maria Ruiz and Judith Butler). Are thing like making eye-contact, vocal inflection, and clothing choices more likely to “come from” X and Y chromosomes or the social environment?
    I hope that gender theorists can help shape those interested in gender equality in our field, because it is important and those scholars are experts!
    I apologize for being “nit-picky,” but as a person who identifies as transgender these kind of small-micro aggressions are hurtful, and I respect anyone who values equality too much to not give feedback.

    • No offense taken. I have actually considered that. Perhaps you could give me some more suggestions so that our event does not refer to sex/ gender as a black or white matter. Message me on FB and we can discuss more–Devon Sundberg

  4. Wow. What a great idea and project to develop. I need to say that most of the key influences in both my professional and my personal life have been women. And yes, I agree acknowledgement is needed that women are hugely underrepresented at conferences in terms of delivery. Thankfully at ACBS women seem to be front and centre compared to many other organisational events. Wish I could come along, but will be too far for me on this occasion. Online access would be great if that’s possible. Best wishes, Jim

  5. T. V. Joe Layng | August 13, 2016 at 2:24 pm | Reply

    Great idea. My first, and perhaps ultimately most important, mentor was the brilliant Susan M. Markle. She was part of the original teaching machine project at Harvard, editor of Skinner’s book Verbal Behavior, and the godmother of behavioral instructional design. Perhaps I will submit to do a talk about her and her contributions.

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