On Tue, Nov 27, 2012 at 9:11 AM, Chad Nelson <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Is there something this community needs to do to encourage more women to
> feel like they can and should speak / propose sessions?

This is relevant to my interests!

This blog post, and its follow-up, by organizers of two different
conferences are the best I've seen on this topic:

My personal experiences:

I pitched a talk to PyCon 2013 (waiting to hear back).  I would never in a
million years have thought of doing this, because I don't think of myself
as being enough of a developer to have anything to say at a real tech
conference.  But one of the PyCon organizers asked me personally to do so,
which was in fact all I needed to start taking seriously the idea that I
might have something to say that people might want to hear.  This is pretty
much exactly the approach in the blog posts above.  Women are less likely
to think they have things to say, less likely to realize that talk-driven
development is an option, more likely to believe they have to meet a very
high level of expertise before they get to pitch talks -- but when you
*ask*, they turn out to have just as many interesting things to say as the
men.  (I expect the same is true for other underrepresented groups.)

When you don't see People Like You in the room (along whatever axis of
"like" feels relevant), it's a lot harder to believe that there's a place
for you there.  Someone telling you specifically that there is makes a huge
difference.  And honestly?  It's not as if it's *hard* to identify diverse
library technologists.  You just have to actually sit down and do it,
because if you put out a passive call you'll get the same people you always
do, and the ones who aren't Like That won't step up.  Even if the
environment once they get there is totally friendly.

I'm on the planning committee for LITA National Forum 2013 and I'm trying
to take this approach -- brainstorming about people & groups who are
outside of our core constituency but are doing interesting tech stuff, or
know people who are, and personally asking them to pitch a talk.  When we
get those, we'll subject them to exactly the same scrutiny as all the rest,
but having a broader range represented should give us some really
interesting possibilities for the final program.  I'd really like to see a
wide range of use cases and speakers represented.

(Speaking of which, y'all can has CFP:  Pull reque
-- er, Google Form submissions -- eagerly awaited.)