Presentation WISE women in computer science

#NotAllMen Like Playboy

Credit: Pixabay / Counselling
Credit: Pixabay / Counselling

So I hear that a conference gave away Playboy magazine as part of the event swag. The internet expressed their outrage, and there was an apology.

I haven’t read it.

I hear it wasn’t stupid, but… meh.

Here’s the thing. There are some classes of problem in conference inclusivity.

  • Someone at our event behaved inappropriately. We dealt with it.
  • Someone at our event behaved inappropriately. We didn’t deal with it.
  • We failed to make $group welcome.
  • We failed to remember that $group exist.

Playboy magazine – that’s the last one. That’s a “gift” that most (not all) straight dudes would not give their wives or girlfriends. Let alone someone else’s wife or girlfriend. (Some day, maybe, most – not all – men might stop seeing women only as chattel. They might recognise that not all men appreciate that kind of gift, either).

Maybe Playboy is an appropriate gift for a frat party. Or a stag weekend. I wouldn’t know. Maybe your gay friend will pretend he’s fine with it, and the strip club. Maybe you don’t have a gay friend.

Is your conference a thinly disguised frat party? Do you miss the frat house so much that you had to recreate it, but disguised as a professional (and tax deductible event)?

Did you think your target audience and the audience of men who like to objectify women were one and the same. I guess the internet woke you up.

Forgive me – but if that is news to you in 2016, I’m not really interested in reading your apology. Because I expect it’s about the incident, and really, what I want to know is how you made it to 2016, living in the world, and this could in fact be news. I want to understand how you managed to be so obtuse. Have you met any women? There are things that I would like to be able to ignore. Maybe I could learn something.

I saw something really cool the other day. I saw a woman, on stage, in front of well over a thousand people, talk about the huge open source release she led, and the awesome features it contained. It was amazing. She was one of many women on stage at that event. There were enough women attendees that there was a queue in the bathroom.

I think sometimes we have been fighting so hard for things like codes of conduct that we forget that such things are not the goal – they are just a means to an end. The code of conduct is not the goal. The “woke” apology is not the goal. The goal is diversity, on stage, and off, of people who are included and allowed to thrive.

So, I’m not reading that apology. I have better things to do with my time.

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