Presentation WISE women in computer science

If Lists Don’t Change Anything, What Does?

Credit: Max Pixel
This is a follow up to last week’s post about lists. Because if lists don’t change anything… what does? The short answer: hard work.

The long answer:

A common piece of advice is to broaden your network. But… see all these people as human beings. I’m not on Twitter as a woman in tech educator – I’m on Twitter as a full human being with a rich life. It seems like often people broaden their network and then pretty quickly un-broaden it because they don’t want to listen to the whole person (or maybe, at all). Try and rebalance your consumption to consume more content from under-indexed folk. What if you only watched videos of talks from women, or PoC for a month? Or a year? What if you only went to events that had at least 30% women speakers? How would your perspective change? Don’t tokenise. It’s tempting to issue a hotfix in the form of what I call a “Token woman invitation“. Every so often these turn into public stories. Factor in your own bias and invite under-indexed people because they have something interesting to say – and do so in a respectful timeframe. Otherwise you may as well not bother. For myself, every time I agree to an invite that I worry is token, I regret it. Do Outreach. Start early. Don’t start pinging people the day before your CfP closes because you’ve finally realised it’s pale and male. Be pro-active. Reach out to people, encourage them to submit, make yourself available for questions. Offer coaching and development for first time speakers. There’s a reason why events which have good “diversity” numbers often offer this. If you are going to include people who have historically tended to be left out, you might need to give them some encouragement to get them in. Functionally, Technically Speaking serves as a list of under-indexed folk in tech – a mailing list, not a public list. But a list. We earned our way to that through the work we have done to make it inclusive, and now we ask that events we include earn their way into it in the same way. When we see events doing the work of inclusion, we’re eager to include them. When they’re not, we close their issues as #wontfix.