WISE women in computer science

Magic Solutions to Materialize Women at 3 Days Notice

Odd One Out
Credit: Flickr / rawdonfox

I was annoyed recently, because a conglomerate organising a conference pinged us (and every other group that might yield “diverse” speakers) to promote their CfP… three days before closing. I sent them a series of comments on how leaving it to the last minute like that wasn’t helpful. As Chiu-Ki put it “we’re not a magic solution that materialize women in 3 days armed with topics to submit”. They didn’t respond, of course.

Anyway, I was thinking about this again, because this week I’ve been at 360iDev. I’ve had a great time – I learned a lot, I met some great people, and my talk went pretty well. Also a lot of friends were here too, which is always great.

And like… compare and contrast. Because at this event there were women speaking, there were women attending, there were women volunteering. I don’t know what the percentages were, but what I noticed was that at every point there were women. I was never the only woman watching a talk, for example. There were people of color.

We were still in the minority, for sure, but I felt like we were better than welcome – we were expected. Which was pretty cool. I know the organizers have been working for a long time to make this the case (and have had a code of conduct since 2012, for example), and continue to (part of the reason they hosted our workshop was they thought it might yield more speakers for next year). And I guess all I can say is: it’s clearly working.

Earlier this year Chiu-Ki plotted to improve the number of women speaking at DroidConNYC, it’s been really great too see women tweeting about how much her encouragement made a difference. All that grassroots work, and it’s 22%. Which doesn’t seem that high – it’s certainly lower than I want to see – but it’s a great start, and one that I hope the organizers will build on.

Achieving this was a lot of work, and started months in advance. Not three days.