Imagine this scenario:
You are organizing a conference session and thinking about possible invited speakers. You want a mix of old(er) superstars and dynamic early-career people.
One of the early-career candidates for an invited talk has told you that she plans to drop out of academia soon because she is moving to the city where her husband got a job. She might teach a bit but has no plans to continue as an active researcher, despite getting a PhD in a high-profile program and doing excellent and significant work.
Do you invite her anyway because her research is interesting, or do you give the invited talk slot to someone whose career prospects would benefit from the invitation and visibility?
Should a person's stated lack of interest in a future career involving research be a factor in this decision, assuming that there are other possible candidates whose research is as interesting and as compatible with the theme of the conference session? Or is the only thing that matters the research topic (and maybe also the individual's speaking ability)?
I think I would invite the quitting-research person anyway if she is clearly the best person for the session, no matter what her stated career goals. Even if the invited talk slot wouldn't benefit her career, it might benefit others in the audience (e.g., students or others who would learn something from her talk) or it might benefit the session overall to have a diverse group of invited speakers ("diverse" could refer to research topic, methods, career stage, gender etc.).
If, however, there were other excellent candidates who would give a similarly excellent and useful talk and who would also personally benefit from the invitation, I might well tilt towards inviting one of them instead.
One of my colleagues has been in this decision-making situation recently, so I was thinking about this type of scenario.
What would you do? (and why?)
10 months ago