I have the possibility to organize a special track/session at a small computer science conference, however at the moment I’m in the last year of my PhD study.

The special session includes an introduction presentation (related to an editorial) by the organizer (me in this case), some accepted papers presentations, and an “Open Discussion and Closing Remarks” chaired by me as well.

Although I believe to have enough expertise/general knowledge on the topic of the session, do you think it’d be appropriate for me as a PhD student to do this? Or is everyone expecting a doctorate or a professor to organize such sessions?

I’m a computer science PhD student who is about to finish his work (fingers crossed!).
Recently I received an invitation to be a committee member of a CS conference (which i accepted), and after 2 months i was asked if i want to send a proposal for a special track to organize it as the chair (in case of the acceptance).

Honestly, I like to do that as I want to do such stuff as a part of my future academic career. It is one of the iaria conferences and is not so known, but i cannot imagine organizing a special track of a well-known conference while i’m still a PhD candidate.
Nevertheless, I’m not sure if it is generally sensible/acceptable for a not-yet-graduated PhD candidate to chair a special track?

I think I need to suggest a topic which is in the area of my expertise (for which i have 1-2 ideas), but is it a good idea to ask my supervisor to do the networking parts or to enrich the advertised themes and etc?

In this recent question, the OP there describes a situation where they were assigned to be a session chair without being asked to do so.

After reading the above question, and having never chaired a conference session before, I wonder if I would be adequately prepared to take on such a task. For sure, one would expect the conference organizers to fill in the details upon request, but it’d still be useful to have an idea of what to expect; this would all be taking place at well-attended (electrical) engineering conferences.

What is typically expected of a conference session chair?

I am going to present my research on a conference in the near future. This conference is in the field of engineering and CS. It has several sessions in parallel and a total of more than 100 papers.

When I had a look at the program, I noticed that I (and another person) have been assigned the role of the session chair of the session where I am also presenting.
However, nobody has informed me of this, yet, neither have I been asked if a want to take this over.
I had a look at the other sessions, it’s similar there: Two presenters in each session have been selected to be session chairs.

So far, I have never experienced something like that.
All in all I am not complaining at all (to be honest, I am looking forward to taking over this task!), however, I am still a bit surprised.
Is it common in other fields or other conferences that presenters are managing their own sessions and are not asked whether they are willing to do so?

I’ve attended a lot of seminars and lectures by now, and it’s typical for the chair of the seminar to offer audience members a chance to ask questions of the speaker about their work after the presentation.

Most of the time, the questions seek clarification of some aspect of the presentation or focus on a more comprehensive understanding of the research involved.

However, occasionally, I’ve noticed that questions are purposefully designed to embarrass the speaker. Things along the lines of “That method won’t work at all for what you’re trying to do. Your results are completely invalid” or “So-and-so’s group already did that work years ago. Did you not read their paper?”

Perhaps more disturbingly (I just got back from a really large conference if you can’t tell), is that women seem to be more harshly criticized than men, and over trivial issues. For instance, in a few sessions I went to, female graduate students were given really hard times over their presentations while the male grad students were not. All presentations were about the same quality. I guess I’m a little shocked; I’d heard of sexism in academia but hadn’t actually seen it (or noticed it) until this conference.

Oddly enough, I’ve observed that it’s typically prestigious professors or researchers that are asking these ostentatious questions. I suppose they figure they have enough “fame” or whatever that their job isn’t in jeopardy, and there’s no easy way to really prove they’re being rude or sexist.

I don’t know what’s going on here, but it seems to me that these questions, even if they do have technical merit, should be held until after the seminar, where they can be discussed privately with the researcher.

My question here, specifically, is what can be done to minimize these (uncomfortable for everyone) instances? My thoughts are that a session chair should remind the audience to refrain from questions that are accusatory in nature. As a presenter, I’m not sure what can be done in advance to preempt and avoid these questions. Any ideas?

As a session chair recently, I was to introduce a talk where the title of the talk was ungrammatical (in both the abstract and talk slides), likely due to the presenter not being a native English speaker. Two words should have been in plural when they were not, which became clear after reading the abstract.

I faced a dilemma:

  1. read the corrected title, and possibly embarrass the speaker (possibly putting them off their talk), or

  2. deliberately read the ungrammatical title.

I attempted a compromise: I acted casual, as if I wasn’t reading the title word for word.

Question: How should the session chair introduce presentation titles which are ungrammatical?

I’m just wondering what’s the best solution in this situation (or perhaps what I did “on the fly” was the best).