Women are underrepresented among faculty in the sciences and engineering. The National Science Foundation’s ADVANCE program seeks to address this issue through comprehensive and creative strategies aimed at institutional transformation. Virginia Tech’s ADVANCE program (AdvanceVT) will be hosting a conference for women in the academic pipeline to facilitate their entry into academic careers. This paper discusses our efforts designing this conference; we hope that it will help to address the relative lack of literature on conference design and provide a starting point for others who are designing conferences. We first introduce four conference design heuristics that emerged during the process of determining what information to present at the AdvanceVT conference and how to present it: (1) undertake requirements elicitation, (2) choose an appropriate modality for presenting information, (3) account for interactions, and (4) emphasize shared interests and traits. We then discuss the application of these heuristics to the first design iteration of the AdvanceVT conference. Included in the discussion of the application of the heuristics are the results of three requirements elicitation activities: an online survey, focus groups, and interviews.
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