[UbuntuWomen] Improving Diversity at UDS

Elizabeth Krumbach lyz at ubuntu.com
Fri Sep 17 16:43:40 UTC 2010

On Thu, Sep 16, 2010 at 2:35 PM, Jono Bacon <jono at ubuntu.com> wrote:
> I wanted to reach out because the Ubuntu Women project has developed
>  and distilled some great experience and knowledge in improving diversity,
> and I wanted to ask for your thoughts and opinions in how we encourage
> better diversity and making UDS a more attractive and encouraging
> event for different demographics of people.
> Thoughts and suggestions are welcome!

Thanks for bringing up this topic, it's good to know that there is
interest in this area.

My first concern is the photo slideshow on http://uds.ubuntu.com/
itself. How many non-white men are in these pictures? How many women
(hint: none)? There certainly were women and minorities at the last
two UDSs I went to, but the slideshow fails to reflect this and
immediately gives an impression about this being yet another tech
summit full of guys. Simply adding a photo of one of the several
rockstar women who make UDS happen (or make design happen, or make the
kernel happen, or make locos happen!) would do wonders for expanding
how inclusive the site itself makes the event look.

Another thing to consider is that one of the barriers we need to
overcome here is that statistically women in tech attend fewer
conferences and summits than their male counter parts (one example can
be seen here: http://www.orangecone.com/archives/2006/07/attracting_wome.html
but it's a frequently cited problem). There are a number of reasons
for this, but one of the big ones that sticks out is that women with
jobs in the industry are simply less likely to ask to attend these
things, and when they do they are more likely to be turned down (there
are a lot of reasons for this too!). So when considering this problem
it's important to realize that for whatever reason, women start off at
a disadvantage when making plans.

I think one of the things that can help with this is earlier
announcement of where and when UDS will be. The formal announcement
for UDS this time was made a mere 2 months before folks were expected
to take a week off from work to attend, and sponsorships were
announced this week, which is just over a month prior to the event.
This timeframe leaves little time for folks who need to convince
bosses or schedule vacation time, arrange travel (if not sponsored)
and event schedules, secure childcare, get VISAs and passports in
order (this one, in particular, really impacts the ability of folks
from many countries from attending, and I believe it adversely impacts
non-europeans and non-americans).

I certainly understand that the planning of these events is, in
general, done in a short period of time, but would it be at all
possible to let the community know the confirmed planned dates
(ballpark is known, but many folks have to present solid plans and/or
fill out forms to request conference or vacation time, so "I need to
be gone from X to X" is vital, rather than "sometime in the end of
october, or sometime in november" knowing dates would empower women to
make more compelling arguments to their superiors for attending) and
at least the *country* of UDS prior to the official announcement?

Elizabeth Krumbach // Lyz // pleia2

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