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Ask Slashdot: How Should Tech Conferences Embrace Diversity?

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the at-least-one-romulan-for-every-human dept.

Politics 343

An anonymous reader writes "The Register is reporting on how debate over diversity has managed to get a Ruby conference in the UK cancelled, as the speakers were 100% white male. The person running the conference, Chuck Hardy, said he 'was not prepared to put [himself] in the position of legal liability and cost ramifications if a sponsor were to pull out under social media strain.' He added, 'The ramifications of comments such as race and gender can have financial and legal consequences for the conference organizer. Raise these issues but allow the conference organizers the chance to highlight and act on these industry level issues. Accusation and slander is not a solution.' Should conferences embrace diversity from the start, or should they go forward even if the speakers are all of the same denomination? How far do we have to go to ensure we are diverse?"

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Affirmative action is not the answer. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42048189)

I think the United States experience has proven that adequately.

Re:Affirmative action is not the answer. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42048243)

There are plenty of people from India who would be qualified to speak, however, the stink from even one would empty the whole auditorium.

Re:Affirmative action is not the answer. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42048257)

But how else can you bring black men to such conferences? Pay them to attend?

Re:Affirmative action is not the answer. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42048313)

Kardashians.

Re:Affirmative action is not the answer. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42048421)

That only works for Star Trek conventions.

Re:Affirmative action is not the answer. (0, Troll)

bhlowe (1803290) | about a year and a half ago | (#42048775)

Modern liberalism and subscribing to political correctness is a sign of mental disorder.

Liberalism: a mental disorder spread by self-pity. (-1, Offtopic)

hessian (467078) | about a year and a half ago | (#42049037)

Modern liberalism and subscribing to political correctness is a sign of mental disorder.

Conforming to the herd is always good, especially if you can insist you're not conforming. That is the ultimate "paradox" of liberalism: because it identifies with non-conformity, it can easily be a form of conformity and remain undetected by most.

In the meantime, those who are ahead of the curve are moving past liberalism. 1789 (the French Revolution) was a long time ago, and since then we've learned that what "sounds good" does not necessarily equal good results, and good results are all that matters.

The chattering classes and TV watchers haven't picked up on this yet, because they're subject to the the most powerful media machine ever created. It preaches at them what it thinks they want to hear.

This will change. In fact, it already has. We're just waiting to catch up with the curve.

Re:Affirmative action is not the answer. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42048333)

Seriously. You end up with a nigger president.

One idea (5, Insightful)

Jailbrekr (73837) | about a year and a half ago | (#42048199)

Have all the presenters in blackface, and then have them announce that they are embracing diversity.

How stupid of an idea is this? Just treat everyone fairly, how hard is that?

Re:One idea (4, Insightful)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about a year and a half ago | (#42048423)

Just treat everyone fairly, how hard is that?

. . . but you have to treat some more fairly than others . . .

Re:One idea (5, Insightful)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | about a year and a half ago | (#42048509)

If you have to try that hard it kind of seems pointless. Yeah I'm not racist I have lots of black friends. Whatever. The best way to show it doesn't matter is to just not give a shit. Once everyone is to the point where we all don't give a shit what the next guy is, then we'll be there. So stop fucking caring so much, it is counter productive.

Re:One idea (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42048903)

We're missing the obvious solution here.

Any black females out there? You could be getting paid big money just to show up for these things, stand behind the podium for a bit, and talk about whatever you like. Everybody wins.

Re:One idea (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42048997)

Hrmm... sounds like you want a tech conference where people are judged by the content of their presentations instead of the color of their skin.

I hope it's not being put on at a state university or your failure to promote one politically-correct group at the expense of others could be deemed unconstitutional: http://www.freep.com/article/20121115/NEWS06/121115041/The-U-S-6th-Circuit-Court-of-Appeals?odyssey=nav|head

Re:One idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42049047)

... okay, so what they did was clearly not the worst they could have done. But there are always more depths.

The Best Way! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42048201)

The best way for a tech conference to handle this is to focus on the tech.

Racial and sexual diversity have precisely zero to do with a tech conference. Unless you're running a KKK rally, don;t look at diversity. Look at the tech!

Re:The Best Way! (-1)

spd_rcr (537511) | about a year and a half ago | (#42048807)

That's kind of narrow view of what tech is. If you want to have a real conference, you should be trying to develop a discussion which requires different perspectives. I don't think diversity is a function of color or gender, but if you go looking for differing ideas and opinions the odds of getting an all white, male group are exceedingly low. If a conference doesn't introduce you to new ideas, what's the point of going.

It's hard to imagine that in a country as diverse as the UK would produce a panel consisting entirely of white males without there being some bias on the part of the organizer. Maybe he just invited his friends, in which case he probably wasn't getting the "best", he was just getting the most agreeable (to him).

Re:The Best Way! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42048977)

Or, maybe all rhe people that wanted to present had less melanin in their skin, and someone just had to put a label on them oh I dunno to call out their so called race? People like you are the reason there's still racism, bcause you focus on skin color and if think there's racism every time the exact distribution of correctly colored skin doesn't occur in exactly the right quantities. So who isnt color blind? It's melanin you idiot, it has zero effect on a persons brain, so the idea that diversity is achieved by counting the amount of melanin in someone's skin is pire junk science, and just plain racist.

That's what my TV says. (5, Insightful)

hessian (467078) | about a year and a half ago | (#42049001)

If you want to have a real conference, you should be trying to develop a discussion which requires different perspectives.

Why do you assume that only people of other races can have different perspectives?

What exactly are these perspectives they bring to the picture?

This sounds like people who want "diversity" so they can have different ethnic foods to get at the drive-thru.

Re:The Best Way! (1)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | about a year and a half ago | (#42049029)

While I agree it seems odd that all the speakers are white men, I am also projecting my american viewpoint of technology diversity, which consists more of asians (of some variety) than white men. I don't really know the tech demographic in the UK, particularly of those on the conference circuit which most of us don't have time for anyway.

I entirely reject the rest. Diversity is a bullshit agenda designed to equalize access to education and the workforce, it should not be viewed as a force of nature particularly in science and technology. I won't doubt in social subjects diversity has a measurable effect on certain types of interactions, that's not relevant to people doing real work.

Re:The Best Way! (1)

steviesteveo12 (2755637) | about a year and a half ago | (#42048813)

And especially don't go in a huff blaming the mere prospect of a sponsor leaving when no one actually left.

are we to believe that no women or any non-whites (2)

Presto Vivace (882157) | about a year and a half ago | (#42048853)

sent in good presentations? or maybe people with female or funny sounding names are not evaluated fairly. I really have a hard time believing that it is just a coincidence that the best presentations were submitted by white men.

Re:are we to believe that no women or any non-whit (5, Insightful)

SomePgmr (2021234) | about a year and a half ago | (#42049173)

are we to believe that no women or any non-whites sent in good presentations?

You think it's more likely that they really are all racist misogynists, and would rather cancel their own event than let a woman speak?

It sounds like the problem was they were working on it until this Susser guy implied on Twitter that they're racist misogynists. From there it turned into a typical Twitter shitstorm, and the organizer realized that anyone making the panel at that point would be seen as the token speaker, and no sponsor would want to be associated with something that became high profile for bad reasons.

Assuming the article is accurate, people should really just mind their damn business until there's something concrete and legitimately wrong to make accusations over.

Does diversity even matter at a conference? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42048231)

Shouldn't a conference be about the technology, not the people speaking about the technology?

My opinion is that I don't care if the information is presented by a black homosexual woman or a white middle-aged heterosexual man, I just want the knowledge.

Re:Does diversity even matter at a conference? (4, Insightful)

solidraven (1633185) | about a year and a half ago | (#42048435)

Exactly, all the mandatory diversity rules actually qualify as racism in my opinion. Simply get the best speakers you can get if you're organizing a conference.
I honestly don't care how they look, what their believes are, etc... As long as they have something interesting to say!

Re:Does diversity even matter at a conference? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42048799)

" all the mandatory diversity rules actually qualify as racism in my opinion"

That isn't an opinion, it is an objective proposition about reality. It is a fact. That isn't to say I disagree and think you are wrong; in fact, I think you are right(or nearly, I'd say it is racial discrimination to be more precise), I just want to encourage you to not hold back against pc bullshit. Call it like it is. If anyone gets offended by truth that is their flaw. No one should be afraid of correctly describing reality for what it is, no matter the political climate.

Re:Does diversity even matter at a conference? (0)

DragonWriter (970822) | about a year and a half ago | (#42049129)

Exactly, all the mandatory diversity rules actually qualify as racism in my opinion.

Mandatory diversity rules have nothing to do with the issue here.

Re:Does diversity even matter at a conference? (0)

Arancaytar (966377) | about a year and a half ago | (#42049171)

Let's do some introductory probability theory:

"Problem: Chuck is holding a conference with 15 speakers. Women comprise between 25-40% of the IT workforce/CS graduates that are, other things being equal, represented approximately in proportion in the pool of candidates. Calculate the probability of Chuck inviting 15 male speakers, assuming an unbiased selection."

"Answer: a chance between .75^15=1.3% and .6^15=0.047%."

Re:Does diversity even matter at a conference? (4, Interesting)

Dave Emami (237460) | about a year and a half ago | (#42049155)

Shouldn't a conference be about the technology, not the people speaking about the technology?

Precisely. Why, exactly, would there be a black vs. white or male vs. female perspective when it comes to a programming language? Do men prefer having function parameters passed by reference and women prefer having them passed by value, or something?

Oh yes I did (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42048233)

FIRST POST FOR JETER. OPEN YOUR HEART TO JETER AND THE FIRST POSTS WILL ROLL RIGHT ON IN!!

keeping it real

Trademarks property of their respective owners. Comments owned by the poster

None whatsoever (5, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#42048247)

You should exert absolutely no effort to be diverse, and you should exert absolutely no effort to not be diverse. What matters is the merit of the speakers, not their diversity.

Re:None whatsoever (5, Insightful)

Crypto Gnome (651401) | about a year and a half ago | (#42048361)

You should exert absolutely no effort to be diverse, and you should exert absolutely no effort to not be diverse. What matters is the merit of the speakers, not their diversity.

PLUS ONE on the above.

Diversity (in and of itself) has literally zero merit.

This is political correctness gone COMPLETELY INSANE.

Repeat after me: Enforced Diversity is NOT the opposite of Discrimination.

Do you REALLY want a Ruby (or anything else, for that matter) conference with One White Guy expert and PURELY FOR THE SAKE OF DIVERSITY one homeless female immigrant from Uzbeckistan who has never handled an electronic device in her life and can barely speak any english?

NO, you DON'T want that? BUT BUT BUT the speakers are diverse! By Definition that must be a good thing, right?

Re:None whatsoever (1, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | about a year and a half ago | (#42048671)

Diversity (in and of itself) has literally zero merit.

Actually, it has a great deal of merit.

Diversity means different viewpoints, different perspectives, different approaches. Diverse speakers will appeal to and engage a more diverse audience. Diversity is more interesting.

Do you REALLY want a Ruby (or anything else, for that matter) conference with One White Guy expert and PURELY FOR THE SAKE OF DIVERSITY one homeless female immigrant from Uzbeckistan who has never handled an electronic device in her life and can barely speak any english?

Nice strawman argument you got there. Was anyone really proposing a homeless woman with no tech experience, and no english from Uzbeckistan?

Diversity is a good thing, and it should be deliberately incorporated. That doesn't mean we should have a black homeless woman 'quota', and it doesn't mean that there should be a law enforcing such a quota. But if I'm planning an event, and I notice I've got a lineup of consisting of nothing but 'white guys' then yeah, I'll step back and re-evaluate whether that's the most interesting line up I could have, and whether incorporating speakers with different backgrounds would be more interesting -- because it probably would.

Re:None whatsoever (0)

asylumx (881307) | about a year and a half ago | (#42048821)

I have no mod points but, but thank you anyway for making the only sane comment I've read about this article so far.

Re:None whatsoever (4, Insightful)

readin (838620) | about a year and a half ago | (#42048929)

Diversity is a good thing, and it should be deliberately incorporated. That doesn't mean we should have a black homeless woman 'quota', and it doesn't mean that there should be a law enforcing such a quota. But if I'm planning an event, and I notice I've got a lineup of consisting of nothing but 'white guys' then yeah, I'll step back and re-evaluate whether that's the most interesting line up I could have, and whether incorporating speakers with different backgrounds would be more interesting -- because it probably would.

So if the conference has one white male with a background of using Ruby on Windows for web applications, another white male with a background of using Ruby on Unix to develop FPS games, another white male with a background of writing Ruby libraries for managing BPEL, and another white male with a background of implementing statistical packages in Ruby - that would not be diversity.

But if get a white guy, an black guy, and a white woman and an oriental guy who all use Ruby for developing web apps on Unix, that would be diversity. Is that correct?

Being a white males is not a "background", it is a skin color and gender. If you want diverse backgrounds you should be looking at what the people have done, what they have studied, and what they have said. Focusing on their race and gender just makes you racist and sexist.

It looks just like the advertisement. (1)

hessian (467078) | about a year and a half ago | (#42049147)

But if get a white guy, an black guy, and a white woman and an oriental guy who all use Ruby for developing web apps on Unix, that would be diversity. Is that correct?

United Colors of Benetton. U2 videos. President Clinton's biggest fans. Or perhaps one of the post-1990s sitcoms.

Yes, that's the dream, and we want to live the dream. That way we'll be just as amazing as the groovy-cool people we see on our TVs!

Re:None whatsoever (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42048953)

So the color of your skin determines how you think? How creative you are? How logical? That's a completely racist viewpoint.

According to your logic, then, since so many modern inventions were created by white males, and not by people from non-white cultures and civilizations, then empirically white males are superior to all others in the tech arena. Therefore, having a "diverse" make-up at a tech conference would accomplish nothing since those inferior non-whites have nothing to contribute.

Do you reflexive liberals ever even stop to think how your well-intentioned policies actually work out in the real world?

You assume race = diversity. (4, Insightful)

hessian (467078) | about a year and a half ago | (#42049083)

Diversity means different viewpoints, different perspectives, different approaches. Diverse speakers will appeal to and engage a more diverse audience. Diversity is more interesting.

You can have that diversity within a single ethnic group.

Just go find people with different approaches to life.

Your approach seems to be racist, in that it assumes members of racial groups are all identical.

We're not. We are diverse as individuals. Quit trying to turn us into the Cosby Show or The Brady Bunch.

Re:None whatsoever (2)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | about a year and a half ago | (#42049107)

I don't really believe that an urban black man, an indian woman, or a gay chinese man will have vastly different perspectives and approaches to Ruby. That's bullshit diversity.

I do think a CMS developer, a PLM developer, a web host provider and a database admin may have some very unique perspectives that apply to Ruby. That's real diversity. If they all happen to be white men, big deal, as long as they HAPPEN to be white men, and other more qualified people weren't being sent away because of some arbitrary criteria like race, gender, religion or orientation.
 

Enforced diversity is discrimination. (4, Insightful)

hessian (467078) | about a year and a half ago | (#42049061)

Enforced Diversity is NOT the opposite of Discrimination.

More accurately, it's a type of discrimination.

Being biased in favor of a mixed-racial group is racism against all who aren't mixed-racial.

Re:None whatsoever (1)

PickyH3D (680158) | about a year and a half ago | (#42048497)

Yep. Anything short of that is racist on either end of the spectrum. You're either claiming one race is superior, or claiming one race is inferior and thus it needs your support.

I don't really see how this isn't the obvious solution.

Re:None whatsoever (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about a year and a half ago | (#42048543)

/thread

I'm surprised the ignorant tweet that started this wasn't just laughed off.

Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42048735)

It's emblematic of the ridiculousness and near irrelevance what Slashdot has become... a mere shell of it's former self.

Re:None whatsoever (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42048643)

THANK YOU! I wish I could log in at work, had mod points, and could mod you up if you weren't already at 5.

But yes... the whole "celebrate diversity" thing is just adding to problem in and of itself. The more you throw diversity around, and say how important it is... what you're actually saying is that the colour of a person's skin (or their religion, or whatever you're being diverse with) is more important than the actual subject matter at hand.

So all of the speakers at a conference were white. Well holy fuck, call the president.

If the most qualified people to speak happen to be white... it would be decidedly RACIST to kick one of them out arbitrarily and replace them with a lesser qualified "coloured" person.

Now don't get me wrong. If it's the conference that's being racist and specifically picked lesser qualified white people, by all means raise hell. But if they're cancelling it purely because all the speakers were just coincidentally white. Well, that's just fucking racist. Course, what's the status quo of the day? Racism is bad, unless it's against a white male? Something like that, and it's sad but horrendously true.

Diversity specialists/proponents/department heads/etc... fucking racists, all of them. If they weren't racist, they'd fucking quit or change positions to not actively attempt to draw attention to people's race.

On the plus side, I'm married to a black woman, so my white male status at least has some flexibility thanks to that.

Re:None whatsoever (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42048721)

They're all pink on the inside.

Re:None whatsoever (1)

jxander (2605655) | about a year and a half ago | (#42048717)

Would mod you if I could

The best way to embrace diversity is to judge people solely on merits and abilities, rather than their melanin count, or the presence of a Y chromosome. It can't be in laws, it can't be restrictive rules. It must be an honest mindset. Basically a mind set to not give a crap. Apathy toward the differences. heh. Shouldn't be too difficult.

If apathy isn't your style, you can ask why: Why were there no females at this conference? Why not anyone of any non-white descent? Also, please define "white." American? British? French? Chilean? Scot? Aussie? I've even met quite a few fair skinned Porteños down in Argentina, looking every bit as white as my Yankee ass.

And finally, if any pro-* groups accuse you of restrictive practices, ask them openly and honestly to help. If a pro-women group decries your conference for being all male, ask them why no women signed up. If women did sign up, figure out why they didn't make the cut.

Make it a coding and AIDS conference (-1, Flamebait)

aliquis (678370) | about a year and a half ago | (#42048817)

That way you'll end up having with a bunch of homosexual niggers and everything is just A-OK.

Maybe some knitting corner to. Or well, have the women baby sit the coders children. That will bring some diversity.

Re:None whatsoever (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42048837)

Yes well... this business shows the usual hallmarks of cluelessness that goes along with any "diversity" related topics. It's about equal **opportunity** not equal participation. Was there anything stopping deaf wheelchair bound mongolian lesbians from being part of the conference... I doubt it. So why the fuck should anyone get sued... why should you have to bus in minorities if they weren't interested in attending, just to avoid lawsuits.

It's this kind of idiocy that means large organisations end up with the management ranks full of mediocre over-promoted women giving their more able female colleagues (who earned it) a bad name.

Re:None whatsoever (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42048873)

Actually - for many years it was believed that women didn't have the talent men did to be able to perform in orchestras. It was only when they started doing blind auditions - where the judges could hear the performance but not see the performer - that more women and minorities were accepted. It wasn't because the judges were racist, but because they had built up a sunconcious effort to bring down.

In this case, the conference organizer didn't reach out to many other people he could have - even though, and this is important - he claimed he had spent months trying to make it a diverse audience.

I'm all for merits, but sometimes you have to take explicit steps to make sure you aren't biased.

Re:None whatsoever (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | about a year and a half ago | (#42049167)

You should exert absolutely no effort to be diverse, and you should exert absolutely no effort to not be diverse. What matters is the merit of the speakers, not their diversity.

Perhaps. But if you do that, you probably shouldn't advertise your conference on technology foo as one of the most diverse foo conferences anywhere, the way BritRuby did with regard to Ruby conferences. But when you explicitly sell diversity, you probably shouldn't be surprised when people actually look at, and comment on, whether that selling point is accurate.

Ruby is Python for Asians (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42048251)

Why do white people even use it?

Re:Ruby is Python for Asians (2)

emarkp (67813) | about a year and a half ago | (#42048483)

Because even white people can hate syntactically important whitespace.

Re:Ruby is Python for Asians (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42049077)

Whitespace? What about blackspace or asianspace?

Re:Ruby is Python for Asians (1)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | about a year and a half ago | (#42049143)

Speak for yourself, I like more wonder on the bread!

Post it to RentACoder (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42048277)

Or a similar site. I bet you can hire an Indian developer to appear and give you guaranteed diversity.

Perl Keynote Worth Watching (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42048295)

The Perl Keynote (video [youtube.com] ) at this year's YAPC::NA conference (the "main" yearly Perl conference in the US) addressed the issues of diversity in tech conferences. It's worth an hour of your time to watch.

Stop complaining, and do it yourself (4, Insightful)

holophrastic (221104) | about a year and a half ago | (#42048301)

Instead of complaining that a conference is all white, run your own conference and make it as diverse as you want. My experience concludes that most of the time, those who complain don't do anything themselves. They work as peons somewhere, and have never made any decisions on their own.

Start your own business, it's never been difficult. And show that you're better than others. What a great competitive advantage you'll have.

Quit complaining when someone else does what they want. I don't imagine that in this case the organizer turned away non-white speakers. You wanted it to be random, and sometimes random is uniform. So sorry, that's how math works.

Again, be responsible for something of your own, and you'll find that you won't care what others do on their own.

So hard that the stuffing comes out of it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42048303)

I love the smell of putrid political insanity guts in the morning.

For the umpteenth time, if a law or a policy mentions race, it's a racist law or policy. Yes. It really is that simple. Yes, even the US Supreme Court is still allowing racism as an answer to racism, in the form of policies regarding certain Southern States. The proper answer is to simply enforce fair and uniform laws. But NooooO. Racism to fix racism makes sense to our policy makers, just as debt to fix debt does.

Invite the best (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42048309)

They should make a reasonable effort to unbiasedly invite the best.

Not a representative sample (5, Insightful)

Hentes (2461350) | about a year and a half ago | (#42048317)

There were only 15 speakers, not nearly enough for any assumption of bias. Britain is a predominantly white country and programming is a male-dominated profession. If they have selected 15 British Ruby programmers at random they would also get 15 white males with a high chance.

Re:Not a representative sample (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42048413)

How large is the population of people in Britain who are doing work of the type that could be presented at a conference of this type? And what proportion of those people are not white males? The issue seems to be that the speakers were all invited, and all of the invited speakers were white males. There is very little in the article about the population as a whole, in order to draw conclusions about bias.

Who cares? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42048323)

So a tremendous amount of effort has been wasted because the list of speakers at a private conference on a narrow topic consists of people of one race and gender. Race and gender should be irrelevant in technical areas. A shame that this Josh Susser had to be such a douche, and a shame that British laws "race and gender can have financial and legal consequences for the conference organizer". I guess some things are better done in cyberspace.

Merit (4, Insightful)

mr dirtbag (1094243) | about a year and a half ago | (#42048325)

I know, silly suggestion. But lets try getting the most qualified speakers we can, and ignore what color they are.

Re:Merit (1)

grasshoppa (657393) | about a year and a half ago | (#42048437)

That'll be about enough of that kind of nonsense.

No sir! Around here we are more worried about the color of people's skins, or what they do or don't have hanging between their legs. Obviously, these things are of great import when discussing such important matters as the programming language of Ruby.

Re:Merit (2)

ThorGod (456163) | about a year and a half ago | (#42048455)

Or even just the best *speakers*. Not every expert is actually good at presenting. Presenting is a secondary skill...

Re:Merit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42048795)

Read the article again, there appears to be some comprehension problem for certain readers.

The organizer can indeed invite whom ever s/he chooses. However, a sponsor does not have to support the conference. It is the organizer's responsibility to ensure the conference is funded. It is the choice of the sponsor to have conditions for providing funding, and its the organizer's responsibility to persuade said sponsors.

Many sponsors may have issues when presented with a set of speakers and topic as to whether to support the event.

Treating the Symptoms... (4, Insightful)

cosm (1072588) | about a year and a half ago | (#42048345)

How far do we have to go to ensure we are diverse?"

Instead of having race quotas to treat the symptom, explore the cause by investigating various demographic breakdowns of those in STEM fields. Note I said explore the cause, not impose an ad-hoc solution to treat the symptoms. If certain socio-economic groups are not present (note I said not-present, and that I did not say excluded) in what society deems as positions that should be diversified, then look at the upward mobility of those demographics and the barriers to entry into a particular career vertical. Which is things like place of birth, education, parenting, finances, etc. Forcing quotas solves nothing and only creates more social stigmas relegating certain classes of people as being special or protected. The sooner we stop treating the symptoms of lack of diversity, the sooner focusing on the causes can be examined (which we already know generally what they are). But most folks don't want to look at and try solving the hard part.

A gang-banging thug from Detroit could be white/black/purple. Said gang-banging thug will probably not go into STEM not because he is anything but white, but instead because he is a gang-banging thug. Solve the gang-banging thug problem and BAM, you've got another person who may rise to the top of a given field other than slanging blow.

And if all your gang-banging thugs are of one color, fixing the numbers at the top as far as who gets to participate in what event based on color breakdown will not solve your gang banging thug problem. Now instead you have quotas at the top but still no solution for the bottom.

Why can't people understand this? Or am I by default a racists for not giving special treatment to non-white classes of people (a distinction sooner forgotten and ignored the better). People are freaking people.

Re:Treating the Symptoms... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42048475)

I think that's a little beyond the scope of a conference organizer's work.

Re:Treating the Symptoms... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42048887)

Read that douche's twitter, he's there to troll or pick up chicks. Fuck coddling the sensitive, progress above all else the American way.

So, No Chinks? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42048351)

What does an Italian flat tire sound like?

Dago wop wop wop.

Best solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42048353)

Put self professed feminist middle aged men in charge of organizing the conference. They'll choose young and beautiful women speakers because they are feminists, they'll also choose that to make place for these young and beautiful women speakers, there should be neither middle aged woman nor young men speaking at the conference.

How about this... (1)

Jerslan (1088525) | about a year and a half ago | (#42048365)

we stop racism by NOT CARING when all speakers are white or black or Muslim or Christian or gay or straight or male or female... Diversity exists naturally, and can't be forced or legislated (when it becomes blatant discrimination).

What is wrong with this picture? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42048387)

What the hell are white males doing at a tech conference? They should be doing dirty shit jobs like property maintenance, construction, plumbing, HVAC, home improvement and electrical work and drive shitty vans with rust holes in the body. Everyone KNOWS that the "clean office jobs" have been reserved for non-whites.

There's nothing more racist than the truth.

This problem again. (1)

Millennium (2451) | about a year and a half ago | (#42048397)

On one hand, I believe that the benefits of diversity are, in most fields, primarily aesthetic: certainly a nice thing to have not something that should ever be put ahead of directly relevant concerns (except in fields where it is itself a directly relevant concern, but tech is not one of these).

On the other hand, I look at the early responses to this post and see a lot of reminders of why tech is not as diverse as it could be. I have a hard time blaming people who prioritize not wanting to put up with all the jerks over wanting to work in tech. I didn't set my priorities that way, but even I can't deny that they drag things down.

Find a better conference organizer (3, Insightful)

twistedcubic (577194) | about a year and a half ago | (#42048401)

I can sympathize. Once I wanted to ask this woman out on a date, but I did not because I *might* be liable for sexual harrassment. Therefore, I can never ask a woman on a date. I have 30 cats at home instead.

Alternatively, you could try... (1)

grasshoppa (657393) | about a year and a half ago | (#42048407)

embracing divertingly.

It makes as much sense as "Embracing Diversity", except you get a free hug!

In the U.S, this is the law (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42048429)

Anything that is correlated with being smart or educated, having a job, having a father in your life, etc., is illegal in the U.S. automatic. Google for "disparate impact" before you mod me down. You might be surprised.

are you really feeling that guilty? (1)

stonebit (2776195) | about a year and a half ago | (#42048447)

Are you feeling guilty about being racist / sexist / etcetera? This is the only reason i can find for someone trying to be 'diverse'. This is absurd. If there was a quanza conference, would it get cancelled if all the speakers were black? Who cares if all the speakers are white. Try not caring about race / sex. In my experience, that's the best way to attract others outside whatever little socio-group that has been formed, intentional or not. A woman / black with skills would see this as a place to shine and stand out. It's like being a girl in a bar with a bunch of dudes. Everyone sees you and wants to talk to you. Inventing racism then inventing the tearing down of that racism does not make something more 'fair' or better in any way.

easy: (2)

larry bagina (561269) | about a year and a half ago | (#42048451)

insist on culturally diverse strippers/hookers.

Well that was racist to cancel the conference (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42048555)

As usual, diversity means 'less white males'.

fail (1)

noshellswill (598066) | about a year and a half ago | (#42048613)

No culture can **go for'ard** diversified by median-80-IQ Bantu Neoliths. Drooling lib.com fools take note. Your culture ... assailed on all sides by bytch_Gais affection ... can only slide back into a 90,000_BC stone-chippers bog sufficient to support a few percent cosmopolitan Stalinst overlords and their femi.nazi houri.

offensive question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42048617)

As a white male, I'm offended the question is even asked.

It's racism and sexism in itself to tell me that you're going out of your way not to have "too many" of us.

Re:offensive question (2)

oic0 (1864384) | about a year and a half ago | (#42048979)

As a white male you aren't not allowed to be offended. Hence someone has down-voted you. I hope you will take this to heart, strive for diversity, and remember everyone deserves equal treatment, except for "your people".

A serious idea (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year and a half ago | (#42048645)

1. Before anyone makes any decisions about which proposals get accepted, have whoever initially got the submission hide the names of the presenters.
2. Rank proposals from 1..n on the factors that can be easily gleaned from the proposals: topic interest, qualifications of presenter, rigor, etc.
3. Now, put the names back on, and go through the list starting at the top to ensure that the actual people's resumes match up with how the proposals represented them and their work. Reject any that don't.
4. When you have enough to fill the conference, that's it, you're done.

The key is that you're making the subjective decisions without any indication of what color or gender somebody is. (Except that the presenter is not likely to be a hyper-intelligent shade of the color blue.)

Doesn't work for an invitation-driven conference (2)

DragonWriter (970822) | about a year and a half ago | (#42048845)

Before anyone makes any decisions about which proposals get accepted, have whoever initially got the submission hide the names of the presenters.

Not particularly relevant to the conference at issue, where the vast majority of the presenters were invited presenters, and all of those invited were white men. (And there is at least some indication that this fact, coupled with the fact that the invited presenters were announced when proposals for additional presenters were solicited, led at least some non-white-male potential presenters deciding not to submit proposals.)

I mean, you can't hide the names -- or more relevantly sex and race -- of the people in the community from the people actively extending invitations.

Serve Cajun Food (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42048663)

It's easier to have open conversations in the bathroom.

Demand Diversity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42048703)

No conference (or anything else) should be allowed to happen unless all speakers and attendees match their respective percentages in the general population. Must have 50% female, 12% black, 20% hispanic, 30% over 40, 10% blond, etc., etc.. If you have a small conference with only a hundred people, you might find it hard to fill these quotas unless you have people who match 5 or more categories (e.g. black gay female in her 30s with blond hair).

Is it just me... (1)

Zapotek (1032314) | about a year and a half ago | (#42048711)

...or does it look like the US and the UK are like 2 mirrors opposite to each other bouncing stupidity back and forth?
I'm genuinely not trying to be offensive, I spent most of my adult life in the UK and plan to move to the US eventually for business reasons but how frustrating is this?
That's like saying that you can't reserve a table for a night out with the guys because the group is not diverse enough.

No seriously, what's the difference?
You reserve a space to facilitate an exchange of ideas between like minded people -- Ruby devs for the conf and buddies for the night out.

Or is it because the conf has sponsors and someone's afraid that someone else will use their endorsing of a seemingly non-diverse conf line-up to bad mouth them?
In which case everyone goes into ultra-ass-covering mode...and that isn't that comforting of a stance either.


I don't really have a point to make, mostly venting and hoping that someone will post a comment to convincingly demonstrate that the situation isn't that bad...somehow.

Trying not to be offensive? (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | about a year and a half ago | (#42049101)

[Is it just me...] ...or does it look like the US and the UK are like 2 mirrors opposite to each other bouncing stupidity back and forth? I'm genuinely not trying to be offensive

Suggestion: try harder.

That's like saying that you can't reserve a table for a night out with the guys because the group is not diverse enough.

That analogy fails in pretty much every way imaginable; particularly, no one told BritRuby that they couldn't do anything, and what they were doing was nothing like reserving a table for a night out with the guys.

No seriously, what's the difference?

What's even remotely similar?

BritRuby wasn't compelled by any outside force to cancel the conference over the criticism. The organizer chose to do so entirely on his own, without any sponsor backing out or indicating that they would back out. So, there's no "can't" at issue.

And most people don't try to attract sponsors and participants for a night out with the guys by publicly advertising it as "one of the most diverse" nights out available, so the analogy fails on that as well.

If you advertise a conference to the public as one of the most diverse of its kind, when 15 of the 20 speaker slots have been filled by invitation, and all of them by white men, well, you should probably expect exactly the kind of criticism that BritRuby got.

Why do you hate women? (1)

hessian (467078) | about a year and a half ago | (#42049161)

That's like saying that you can't reserve a table for a night out with the guys because the group is not diverse enough.

Exactly. It's enforced diversity, so that you can be Utopian and Progressive.

If you don't do that, you're morally wrong, and bad, and it's a defect of your character, and we want you out of our society.

There can be no "guy's nights" or all-white fraternities.

Everyone must be mixed.

Then we will finally have peace, love, harmony, compassion and progress.

Why wouldn't you agree to that?

Are you a bigot? There can be no other reason.

One would-be speakers take: (2)

kwerle (39371) | about a year and a half ago | (#42048751)

http://devblog.avdi.org/2012/11/19/on-britruby/ [avdi.org]

"The BritRuby organizers decided to invite 15 speakers, and leave 5 more slots open to submissions. I fully believe them when they say that they set out to create a diverse conference. However, I think some implicit bias crept into their selection process. Even that is not an accusation I make lightly, so here’s why I say it..."

---

In short: bias is not the same as prejudice or bigotry. Those that think merit should be the primary factor in considering candidates are right - but it isn't like there is a coder/presenter score to decide who the best are. An organizer would do well to try to mix things up - if only to counter their own bias.

Here is why Ruby is all white (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42048789)

All the Indian developers work on MVC.NET, that's why.

So offensive. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42048827)

We do NOT have a diversity problem in IT. In fact, other than it being mostly male, it is more diverse than other fields precisely because there isn't much of an advantage to having english as your first language. If you want to complain about diversity in IT, note how many men have been demoted out of the professions and management and into effectively manual skills jobs in tech.

Tech jobs are low status jobs, and they are primarily done by men with manual technical skills instead of professionals with organizational ones.

The only people who say there is a "diversity problem" in IT are scheming political players, often with little technical merit, who believe they can elevate their own status and organizational power by aligning with these ridiculous oppression myths. They are a bunch of sanctimonious pricks who are all about equality when it raises their profile or brings down a rivals - but at its heart, diversity is a bunch of crap.

Organizational skills (1)

hessian (467078) | about a year and a half ago | (#42049105)

Tech jobs are low status jobs, and they are primarily done by men with manual technical skills instead of professionals with organizational ones.

This is interesting, because it conforms to what I think of as a great CEO: someone who can organize many different abilities into a team and get them to complete a task under imperfect circumstances, without being an unrealistic authoritarian.

Diversity is a false goal. (2)

hessian (467078) | about a year and a half ago | (#42048973)

A happy society is one where people share an ideal of what should be, and thus they act toward similar goals without a police state enforcing rules on them

Diversity ruins this idea.

Diversity puts people in an ugly position: either disregard your native culture and become an anonymous person who gets his/her culture from shopping malls and TV, or keep your native culture and be an outsider.

Conventionally, criticism of diversity is labeled "racism," which is a logical fallacy that excludes the possibility that someone could criticize diversity for some reason other than racism.

The realistic view is that diversity of any form does not work. Racial, religious, ethnic, cultural, class and even values. Mix the different and you make them all opposites. They're different for a reason: over history, the human race has branched out into many unique tributaries.

However, it benefits our overlords to have a society that is not united. We fight among each other and ignore the long-term problems that our society is piling up by ignoring the obvious.

Diversity is thus, like many other gestures of dying societies, a surrogate and a substitute but not action that can actually save us from our own decay.

Like many others, I've watched Rome wind down and begin to burn and I realize that most people have a singular response to this, which is strong and violent denial. This is why they call you racist, crazy, etc. if you criticize diversity, the welfare state, democracy, consumerism, egalitarianism, police actions or any of the other fictions our society has come to depend on like crutches.

embrace diversity from the start (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42049033)

I like when an article answers the problem it poses.

Sure, you can also go ahead and organize your whiteguyfest if you're not worried about public perception. But take a moment to think about the reasons why this affects your public image negatively. Sometimes when an action causes a public backlash, it's not because the public is evil and hates your freedom.

Zero sympathy for the organizer who canceled rather than make an effort. It's not as though female coders are rare.

No (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42049123)

We shouldn't force "diversity". We should have who is best for the job, if that's all women, all blacks, all men, all black women, all chinese transgender, WHATEVER. Whoever is best for the job.

Diversity? (1)

Cute and Cuddly (2646619) | about a year and a half ago | (#42049135)

I fail to see the relevance. You do not go to that kind of conference for anithing but technical information and personally I do not see why the even should have been cancelled. If there was some speakers that had been not allowed in the conference because of their race or gender, would be a different issue, but this sounds stupit to me. It is just like affirmative acction all over again.

Just wow... (2, Insightful)

keepper (24317) | about a year and a half ago | (#42049139)

The blatant crypto racism is exhibited in most of these posts... Guess what, your reaction is what proves the racism, not your quasi logical statements explaining your reaction...

No one bother to read the opposing views, or the reason why this was brought it.. just an immediate.. " Those women and brownies always want to be included... reverse racism"

To quote a SPEAKER that realized this after the fact

So I started asking around. I thought of all the prominent non-white-dude Ruby conference speakers I could in the space of a couple minutes. Just people who came easily to mind, nobody too obscure. I wanted to know if they had been invited to be part of that initial group of 15, and had said no.

Sandi Metz. Bryan Liles. Reg Braithwaite. Angela Harms. Sarah Mei. Katrina Owen (Norway). Keavy McMinn (Scotland). None of these people were invited to be part of the initial line-up. In fact, I couldn’t find a single woman or minority Rubyist who had been invited to be part of that 15.

Oh.. that changes the picture... doesn't it?

This whole "the world isnt racist anymore so just get over it" is a bunch of BULLSHIT. It's been barely a generation in most areas.. heck, we have people in the south holding to grudges and behaviors 6-9 generations deep. But someone, racist behaviour is supposed to be completely expunged in one generation, and well, any mention of it just shows reverse racism... bleh.. most of the above posters disgust me.

Re:Just wow... (1)

keepper (24317) | about a year and a half ago | (#42049157)

*should use a spell check before submitting lol...

Diversity at a tech conference? (2)

Freddybear (1805256) | about a year and a half ago | (#42049163)

That would be Windows, Android, and iOS, right?

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