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Re: Thinking of organising a special mini-debconf

* 'lesleyb' <lesleyb@herlug.org.uk> [2013:08:19 21:45 +0100]: 
> Any attempt to rectify the situation in future DebConf's places a huge burden
> on those women who are at a DebConf, where the program isn't finalised
> beforehand, who suddenly get the proposal they should speak.  If anything would
> have me howling and hoping for the ground to open up and swallow me up, room
> that might just about be the thing to do it.

This is actually a good point -- there's a fine line between encouraging and
putting people on the spot in a way that makes them uncomfortable in a bad way.

That said, I think that many among us who became DDs were put on the spot in
that way. "So when are you going to apply to NM?" is a question I got asked a
*LOT*. I don't think it's wrong to push boundaries a little bit, but if
everyone is "pushing boundaries a little bit" then it can quickly overload
someone who just wants to meet cool Debian people.
> I hate the fact we haven't got past the problem surrounding female speakers at
> any conference let alone a DebConf.

Aw, this is a bit pessimistic, don't you think? The conference problem hasn't
been solved because it's a symptom of a larger, systemic problem. But I think a
lot of headway has been made -- people are very aware of it as an issue, and a
number of prominent (male) speakers are refusing to participate in panels that
don't have women.

For what it's worth, I have given a number of technical talks, but I have
mostly stopped not because I am shy or new or afraid to give talks: I stopped
because of the constant filming and not having a socially acceptable way to
tell conference organizers that I didn't want them to videotape me. I guess I
could have said "I don't want to be videotaped" and hoped they did not ask why,
but if they did my answer would be "because men make gross comments about my
appearance" and then it turns into an argument, probably. About how trolls
online are this way, and shouldn't I be flattered, or whatever -- you know what
I mean. To some extent I could probably get away with this, since my day job
involves working on anonymity software, thus giving me a free pass to act as
paranoid as I want, but not everyone is in the same position, yet they may wish
for the same options.

So my other recommendation to conference organizers is: make it explicit
that speakers can opt out and give them some options: no recording at all,
audio recording with slides, or video recording. I would even put it in a sign
up form once their talk is confirmed so they do not have to talk to anyone to
justify their decision.

Plus, it's not like you need a harassment-related reason -- if you're giving
your first talk ever, maybe you don't want it archived forever online in case
it sucks.

BTW next year is our 10 year anniversary. So I am fully on-board with a Debian
Women Conf.

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