[EuroPython] Talk review status and finalization plans (was: Lack of diversity within selected talks)

holger krekel holger at merlinux.eu
Fri Apr 18 13:24:57 CEST 2014

Hi Lynn and everybody interested in a better EP2014,

we recognize that you raised some serious and valid concerns and would
like to lay out to the best of our ability how we plan to address them.
Many of you also are eagerly awaiting the final programme for EuroPython,
and there has been some confusion about the current status. Please
let us clarify where we stand and how we proceed from the programme
comittee side.

We had an open review process for 300+ submitted proposals with about
250 people participating in reviews, and about 1500 reviews delivered.
The initial batch of around 70 accepted talks was selected by
determining all talks that got positive and no negative reviews.
We did not filter out "multiple talkers" because at the time we
didn't think it's a good criterion but we realize that many think
it's good to be more restrictive to allow for more individuals to give

We have now about 50 slots remaining that we can accept and something
like 230 talks to choose from.  Anna, Holger, Kristian and Sarah with
support from others of the programme committee agreed to walk through 
the pending list now and review the reviews and also chime in regarding 
increasing overall diversity.   We also will try to reduce the amount
of people giving multiple talks in our future acceptance decisions and 
ask talkers for already accepted talks to consider freeing up slots.

Apart from gender diversity of talkers we also try to be diverse on
topics, i.e. duplicate topics or too many topics from one sub community.
As you may imagine this is not a trivial task and we are doing our
best to take all considerations into account.

We also are reaching out to Berlin PyLadies and would be happy if
someone there or from another group could help with sorting through the
current reviews and participate in the final decision making process.

Given the desire from people wanting to know about acceptance of their
talks, also affecting their EP conference attendance and travel plans,
we do not feel we can re-open an already complex reviewing process
and accept new proposals.  We also think that because of the 50 slots 
we can still fill and the increased scrutiny now on diversity issues
we will end up with a very good programme that is at least much more
diverse than what the initial snapshot suggested.

We hope for your understanding and agreement for this course of action
which was positively discussed by many members of the conference 
organisation teams.  We are certainly aware that increased outreach and 
diversity activities remain an ongoing topic and a shared challenge.  Doing 
it again, we would definitely try to do a better and earlier job at involving
groups like PyLadies to help with spreading the word of submitting and
helping with proposals.

For the programme and orga teams of EP2014,
Holger and Veit

On Tue, Apr 15, 2014 at 02:28 -0700, Lynn Root wrote:
> 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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