Post-OSCON roundup

A lot’s happened in the few days since my keynote at OSCON and I think it’s time I did a round-up of women-in-open-source-related stuff from the conference itself and the not-quite-a-week since.

Some wins for the conference:

  • Gina Blaber from O’Reilly tells me that female attendance is up, and it looked that way to me. I’d guess around 5%, which of course is still kind of appalling, but I think a bit higher than last year.
  • Proportion of female speakers is up to 8.9% (from 8.36% last year). That’s just based on actual numbers of people, not the talks they gave; it might be a smidge higher based on number of talks. A small improvement, but any improvement is good at this point.
  • I noticed a couple of instances where people had modified their slides to remove content that might make some attendees feel marginalised or uncomfortable, and a couple of references to Aimonetti’s CouchDB talk that show that people are more aware of the issue of sexualised presentations than before.
  • Between CLS and OSCON itself, there were a number of BoFs, discussions, and events around women in open source, which were good opportunities for people to talk about the issues or just get to know other people who care.

And since the conference:

  • Randal Schwartz of Stonehenge Consulting has apologised for hiring booth babes and/or sexily-dressed entertainment for events at OSCON, and promised not to do so in the future.
  • Some conferences I know of are talking about creating a code of conduct to make it clear what is and isn’t appropriate behaviour for attendees, speakers, and vendors. (I’ll wait for them to announce themselves publicly, as it’s all been going on in private email.) Nat Torkington and I have been working on this cut-and-paste set of guidelines for any other events that might like to do likewise.
  • The Python community is starting to discuss diversity, and has started up a mailing list for the purpose. One CPAN author has also committed to including a diversity statement in all his modules.

There are a bunch of discussion threads going on in various places. Here are a few that I know of:

If you join in on any of the above threads, please try to maintain civility.

Now, I have an actual dayjob I need to get to.

3 thoughts on “Post-OSCON roundup

  • pfctdayelise

    Wow. I don’t know what happened in between 60 and 280 comments on that O’Reilly Radar thread (and I’m not sure I have the constitution to find out), but obviously it included a minor miracle. Nice one, whoever helped orchestrate that.

    It’s pretty amazing to see your talk have an impact, in that people are actually listening to your message and looking at their own community and trying to figure out how to improve their own situation. Most keynotes don’t have an impact anything at all like that. It almost gives me hope!

  • Jeff Casimir


    I watched the video of your talk earlier this week and it really pushed my thinking. I believe in “doing” rather than “saying”, and I’ve approached diversity from the same perspective. I believe in building diverse communities because, well, the converse seems so totally absurd it’s hard to rationalize.

    But, I liked what you had to say about the Dreamwidth diversity statement. If you believe it and practice it, why not proclaim it?

    I just started a little technical training company and am trying to increase the diversity of our community, particularly the Ruby / Rails worlds where I spend most of my time. I put together my own diversity statement inspired by your talk here:

    Last weekend we held an all-women attendee Ruby workshop that was small but successful. It seems a little weird to achieve diversity through discrimination, but I think the ends justified the means.

    If you have any feedback on my little diversity statement or tips on how to recruit more female developers, I’d love to hear ’em.

  • Russell Nelson

    Actually, the *best* thing to do is hire booth babes who are or can taught to be experts on your product. Then, when a meninist (WTF is the opposite of femininininininst, anyway?? Feminist is a great word, but I never know when to stop spelling it. Like bananananana or couscouscouscous) talks down to them, they can ask “Can I answer any questions about CouchDB?” (or whatever the product is).

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