A story of how a conference being on the way to become more inclusive

Armağan Ersöz —  16 March 2022 — Leave a comment

I have witnessed an intense event at Twitter in the last several days and I want to briefly share what happened to a broader community here because I believe there are so many lessons to learn for each of us here.

A technical conference committee in Turkey announced their speaker list of their upcoming conference last week and there wasn’t a single female-identifying speaker in the list. As a result of that, some people and communities called this out on Twitter by reaching out to the committee to ask why the speaker line up is all male and reaching out to their speakers and sponsors to ask if they are aware of this issue and what they can do to make it a more diverse and inclusive event. 

One of the most unfortunate things that happened during this event is that a committee member, who is a part of the speaker selection process, commented that they had women speakers in the past by making “exceptions” by selecting their talks even though the talks didn’t meet their quality criteria. Then the situation escalated from there. It has been a tense few days for those who were actively involved in this call-out as some parties decided to engage with more destructive behaviours after all by throwing countless discriminative and sexist comments around. 

A few days later, the conference committee posted on twitter and apologized to everyone and they mentioned that all the feedback they received made them aware that they need to put extra effort to make this conference more diverse and inclusive and this is an opportunity for them to improve themselves. They also added that the committee member who made that unfortunate comment is not with them anymore.

I am very sorry for what my friends and everyone who was involved in this had to go through but on the other hand, it was a wholesome solidarity. Women inequality issues are serious societal problems and we all need to do our bits to fix it.

Thank you for reading that far and I would like to emphasize one more time that if you are organizing an event please take a moment to think if your event is diverse enough and inclusive to those diverse groups? If not, what can you do to make it so?

I’ll end my post with one of the great articles about organising inclusive events and what can you do to attract more women speakers. (Thanks to Gülçin for sharing this source with us)  https://trishagee.github.io/post/more_women_speakers/

Armağan Ersöz

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