[EuroPython] Lack of diversity within selected talks

Lynn Root lynn at lynnroot.com
Tue Apr 15 11:28:50 CEST 2014


To the EuroPython organizers, talk reviewers, and community at large,

For those of you who do not know me, I am a board member of the Python
Software Foundation, the founder and leader of PyLadies San Francisco,
and an engineer at Spotify.  I have been a speaker at the last two
EuroPythons, with 3 talks last year, and a keynote the year before.

I see that the list of preliminarily talks are publicly available. Side
stepping my issue with lack of communication to proposers of talks at
large, I am writing to bring light to the lack of diversity of the
current list of talks, and propose some action items.

There is how I understand things as they are. Please correct me if I am
wrong.

- talk selection was/is being done blindly, as in no identifying
information about the speaker is revealed
- there are very little women on that preliminary talk list slated to
speak
- there are multiple selected speakers slated to give multiple selected
talks

If you do not find a problem with item #2 and #3, please read this
article [1] about importance of diversity in a technical field.

Here are my suggestions to rectify this issue:
- limit speakers to only give one talk. Yes this means going back on the
original acceptance.
- reopen CfP and reach out to PyLadies globally to help get the word
out. As one of the main leaders of the global organization, I know this
did not happen originally.
- re-review the talks. Give preference or help for those who would be
first time speakers. First time speakers may need far more help writing
a proposal tailored to the EuroPython audience. As reviewers, you have
an understanding of the EP community and should help pull up new
speakers.
- related to #2, and #3, have open office hours  or create general
availability during the time that the CfP is reopened to help those who
want it craft a good proposal.
- select talks for the remainder of the program with the context of the
preliminarily talks in mind.

I understand that the blind selection process was meant in good faith to
remove bias. However, the result is troubling, and needs to be looked at
in context. If this preliminary list has any influence on the actual
program, the conference will suffer in terms of overall diversity in
attendance. I'm not writing to discuss the merit of diversity at a tech
conference, because I have faith that the reviewers and organizers
already grasp its importance. But this email is to address what I feel
needs to change.

Thank you,

Lynn Root

[1]
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/06/technology/technologys-man-problem.html?_r=0


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