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    This is great to hear! I think if everyone makes a push we can keep getting women speakers in conferences and inspire more women to work/contribute to tech as well as engender more respect for women’s contributions.

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        Regrettably, in practice, mere competence is no guarantee of respect. There are many helpful examples from American 20th century history where folks were willfully disrespecting other people–it can take a higher action to get cultures out of a rut. It shouldn’t be the sustaining force, mind you, but the occasional jolt can work people out of a local maxima.

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          This is a different meaning of respect. Nobody is asking anybody to sincerely feel nice things. Only to behave in a civil fashion and not automatically ignore contributions simply because they’re known to come from women.

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              Irene was clarifying what “respect” already means to a sizable portion of the community. You can call it however you want, and frankly, that’s completely besides the point.

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                There is no word redefining at play here. Words have different meanings, they are pointing out that the meaning of respect used in the OP is different to the meaning of respect used in your reply. A well known fallacy.

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              You haven’t earned my respect yet, therefore I don’t respect your opinion, therefore the downvote.

              I didn’t really downvote you, but I hope you get my point.

              EDIT: Irene said it better than I did.

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                  Sorry I didn’t get your point, maybe you interpreted mine differently.

                  I wanted to demonstrate that a minimal amount of respect (as defined by Irene) needs to be “given” to each community member for the community to function properly. Otherwise the community ends up in the same state as LKML.

                  Given that you said “respect needs to be earned”, I’m sure you are familiar with Torvalds' position on the issue (as stated somewhere in this video), but it’s easy for Torvalds to talk, who, given his technical achievements and reputation based on them, has basically already earned it and can assume (or simply demand) it from anybody who wants to submit a patch to Linux.

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            I wonder what the selection criteria where. Is there an insight in this process?

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              Strangely, not that much in the case of PyCon. This post implies they at least didn’t have an anonymous review process at some point:


              Still, PyCons cornerstone is active outreach before the CFP, which I can say from experience. They encourage people to submit to make sure the numbers are okay before selection.

              DjangoCon, also heavily supported by the Python Software Foundation, has an anonymous CFP based on the JSConf model.

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                Thanks Skade, to share this information. I was a bit worried about this “if the selection process for Pycon was fair, this would be cool. However, if it was just driven by an agenda to exclude some men to reach some quota it’s shameful.”, but it sounds pretty rad how PyCons dealt with it. Nice work!

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                  As an extension, read though the gist that Julia refers to, especially the PyCon commentary.


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              Holy crap. That is legitimately ground-breaking—literally 2 women to every 3 men! Unheard of in tech circles.

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                eurucamp had 46% men speaking with >25% women in attendance. JSConf EU also runs similar numbers. It’s not unheard of, there’s knowledge and experience in making that happen.

                Our selection process was anonymized. The trick is to make sure people submit, it will show up in the numbers later.

                We wrote our approach down here: http://blog.eurucamp.org/2013/05/27/end-of-eurucamp-cfp/

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                    Are you really arguing that in a field where women attendance at conferences is lower then the mean, conferences on the other side of the mean are unfair?

                    Weren’t you guys

                    I’m sorry, but the team was clearly not to be referred to as guys.

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                      Maybe you’re not familiar with colloquial English: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=you+guys

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                        “Folks” is a handier term.

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                          In North America at least it seems very regional. I now personally say one of “y'all”, “you all”, or “you folks”, but I think of all of those as being southern dialect, and I picked them up only after living in Texas and Georgia for some years. When I lived in Chicago I said “you guys”, which afaict is nearly universal in the midwest and most of Canada.

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                            What can I say? Texans are more sensitive, unlike those damned yankees.

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                            In urban areas?

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                  equal rights != equal status

                  if the selection process for Pycon was fair, this would be cool. However, if it was just driven by an agenda to exclude some men to reach some quota it’s shameful.

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                    So, when our prime minister announced his cabinet, this happened.

                    Of course, that article is satire, but it does highlight many people like you who are suddenly very concerned to make sure that these numbers happened fairly, because the obviously “fair” state that is not questioned is the status quo, with 1% female participation in Pycon 2011. Let’s look at the title of the talks and some assumed genders by names of speakers:


                    I see some very technical talks by women (and I attended several yesterday) such as Nina Zakharenko’s talk about memory management or Anna Herlihy’s talk about LLVM and Pythonf. I also see “soft” non-technical talks by men such as Sean O'Connor’s talk about workplace dynamics. It seems like a healthy mix to me, and there is some evidence online that Pycon’s selection process is fair. What is also known, since Jessica McKellar has said so, is that she and others go out and specifically ask women to submit talk proposals.

                    Does this assuage your concerns?

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                      I have experiences in the academic sector, especially when it comes to workshops and conferences. It’s a sad fact that in many places, the “xx%-female-quota” is achieved by just accepting papers because they were submitted by a female. Looking at the talks list, I admit that this isn’t the case here, so thanks for clearing this part up.

                      However, given the trouble people have to answer my simple questions, they probably were not trivial at all. So I welcome your straightforward approach.

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                      Without any evidence whatsoever, your comment is basically a sexist troll.

                      Is there any evidence men were excluded just to reach a quota of women speakers? Has anybody involved with PyCon and selecting presenters claimed that was the case?

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                        I actually share some of his skepticism. He didn’t claim anything and nor will I, but I myself am a bit worried about that possibility.

                        It seems like there is an ongoing race trying to be “one true most supportive and progressive event/website/whatever” which might involve reaching some extra-ordinaries quotas (like this one) by doing shady things like excluding valid talks from people who aren’t part of minorities or even outright stalking and spamming people who are just to try to look good and get good press.

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                          The Python Software Foundation and others take pride in fair evolution of conferences and have poured quite a lot of thought into their efforts.

                          It’s shameful to imply “there’s a possibility”. They have a track record, over years, with PyCon and the Django Conferences. Your move. Please talk about concrete things.

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                            I don’t do moves, my objective here isn’t to convince you or anyone that PyCon does or might do this sort of thing, I just wanted to shed some light on why I and FRIGN (and maybe others?) might be doubtful or skeptic and how that’s not “just a sexist troll”.

                            Since I don’t follow the PSF, I don’t know anything about their track record. My fault for not being informed then, but my comment had nothing to do with PyCon or the PSF. I have this sort of attitude with this sort of claims regardless of the source.

                            I don’t even know how to word what I’m trying to get to, but rest assured I don’t mean ill will toward anyone, nor I mean to make people doubtful toward the PSF or whatever.

                            PS: Thanks for all the links on how eurucamp and PyCon handle CFP on the other comments, they are interesting reads!

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                              I don’t do moves, my objective here isn’t to convince you or anyone that PyCon does or might do this sort of thing, I just wanted to shed some light on why I and FRIGN (and maybe others?) might be doubtful or skeptic and how that’s not “just a sexist troll”.

                              The behaviour that jilarcco called out is pretty standard concern trolling. (“oh nice, there’s an achievement, but couldn’t that just be due to x/y/z”, where x/y/z undermines the validity of the achievement). The assumption is baseless and the “if” only serves for hiding. You defend the concern trolling.

                              A more complex argument is needed here.

                              Since I don’t follow the PSF, I don’t know anything about their track record. My fault for not being informed then, but my comment had nothing to do with PyCon or the PSF. I have this sort of attitude with this sort of claims regardless of the source.

                              In that case, you only source is there announcement of a clear achievement. Please don’t form doubt without further reading up. Are you fine with the achievement? Cheer! Would you like to know how they achieved it? Ask that question, but make no assumptions.

                              I don’t even know how to word what I’m trying to get to, but rest assured I don’t mean ill will toward anyone, nor I mean to make people doubtful toward the PSF or whatever.

                              I do understand that, but be assured that this is a typical discussion mode people engaged in that field always find: people forming baseless assumptions without taking further interest and reading up. Engaging in those kinds of discussions without any but of groundwork. Would you accept this in a discussion about technical things?

                              YES, we gave all those issues a lot of thought and have literally spent years of work, research and approaches on all this. Such bland statements as the OPs are a problem for us, they undermine all that.

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                                I didn’t see any baseless assumptions. I saw people concerned that there would be exclusion based on gender, but male exclusion instead of female.

                                I also don’t see it as trolling to voice concerns. You are attacking people for having concerns. You cannot suppress people’s skepticism by saying “we’re right and you’re either with us or you’re against us.”

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                                  Could you please, in a few steps, explain me how a tweet announcing a number and the number over time is a discussable base for the initial statement?

                                  I’m not supressing, I’m calling out blanket statements.

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                                    The tweet shows that it’s gone from 1% to 40% in 5 years. Are you really surprised people are questioning the selection when the jump has been so sharp so rapidly?

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                                      Wait, your base case is that the numbers are to high?

                                      At a conference that made it one of their main goals to increase the diversity of speakers?

                                      5 years is a lot of time, more then the election period in most countries.

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                                        First off, thank you for the work to close the gender gap in this industry/community. I think most people on this site would agree that it’s a laudable and necessary objective.

                                        The concern I see in this thread is not that people think this shouldn’t be happening. It’s more that the pycon selection committee might be massaging the numbers by admitting more women merely because they’re women. I think you’d agree that if this were the case (not saying it is), it would be a bad thing.

                                        You might not think that concern is merited given your extra information from having taken part in the selection process, but I don’t think you should be surprised to have to address this concern, especially since the ‘source material’ here is a tweet with no additional info.

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                                          No, I’m not saying they’re too high. I’m saying they’re unusual given that just 5 years ago they were at 1%. If you looked at labeless data and saw something go from 1% to 40% within 5 points, I think you’d agree it would seem unusual and require some looking.

                                          Questioning the means to get to that number is very logical. It’s not an indictment of the people who are running the conference.

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                                            Sssh, the hate-speech-police will come and get you son. Those people don’t want to hear it, because they are living in their secure bubble and enjoy a seemingly just culture.

                                            How come so many of us have become so weak to be offended and become aggressive as soon as faced with valid concerns, voiced even in a careful way? (I mean, honestly, was my original comment in any way harrassment, at least justifying the horrible downvote?)

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                                              Since you ask, in my view, your comment wasn’t harassment. It was noise, not signal. I can’t speak for anyone else.

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                              And not to forget the dongle incident.

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                                “DongleGate” was not remotely PyCon’s fault.

                                If anything, fault was with the cowardly employers that fired both “Mr. Hank” (I don’t know his real name) and Adria Richards as soon as they became controversial. That was the disgusting part: not an errant “shame tweet” (I mean, she made a mistake) but the organizations that knowingly threw their own people under the bus.

                                I’m disgusted by what was said and done to Ms. Richards, but if that same adversity had been directed at Mr. Hank’s employer (and Adria’s) I would be coming out in support, because we would live in a better world if it weren’t safe for a corporate executive to just throw someone under the bus because of a transient controversy. Unfortunately, Internet outrage mobs seem almost never to be a force for good.

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                                  That is a very good point. It’s also the weakness of people to stand their point on the one side and the aggressiveness and noise of the PC internet crowd. Yes, the dongle-jokes were immature and childish, but definitely no reason to fire somebody for.

                                  One should talk to real war-veterans about it. Sometimes I believe there has to be another world war or financial crisis so people see what really matters.

                                  Making a hobby out of being offended or fighting for literally non-existant minority groups or groups which can defend themselves but are always portrayed as victims is just a sign of the decadence our western societies have fallen for.

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                                  The dongle incident was very well handled by the organisation, though, once they got knowledge of it.


                                  Key point:

                                  Both parties were met with, in private. The comments that were made were in poor taste, and individuals involved agreed, apologized and no further actions were taken by the staff of PyCon 2013. No individuals were removed from the conference, no sanctions were levied.

                                  Also, I currently cannot find it, but I’m sure there was a statement from them where they recommend reporting to them in trust over public action, for the reason that it might blow up.

                                  I’m no stranger to public action though and do support it, especially on conferences that show that they have no interest in helping people out. It’s perfectly within attendees rights and one of the reasons organisers should make sure they are a trustable first point of contact is making sure that it isn’t necessary in most cases. It bears risks for all parties involved, including *chan not caring about discussing the incident, but just doxing people for the lulz.

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                                  Sure it’s a possibility, but without giving any evidence you’re just trolling; subtly implying women aren’t “good enough” to legitimately get accepted for 40% of the talks. It’s possible the men giving talks only got selected because they bribed the people picking talks, but I don’t have any evidence that happened, so it’s not worth discussing.

                                  You and FRIGN aren’t giving any evidence to support your claims, and nobody else seems involved with PyCon seems to be suggesting that happened, so it’s a waste of time to discuss.

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                                    Chill down a bit. I’m happy to see women engaged in the technological community, especially computer science. However, my only concern was that the numbers may have been massaged. However, I was kindly reassured that the topics of both genders were particularly well and also on a high technical level, indicating there was no massaging.

                                    The mindset of a liberal-leftist mind tries to simplify the world into two camps. Me asking legitimate and critical questions put me into your “sexist-racist-Trump-voter-patriarch” box, so me asking these questions must have been because I value women lower than men.

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                                  Please read my comment again, I was talking in if-clauses.

                                  We don’t know the selection process, because the process was secret. I didn’t claim anything, so no need to rant. ;) In the ideal case, which I would welcome, the process was fair and not dependent on gender (only on the weight and quality of topics).

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                                    Implying that there might be an agenda in the absence of additional info is quite problematic. The Python Software Foundation has very good policies in place and has a good standing, which makes people want to submit to their conferences.

                                    One of their cornerstones is:

                                    Forward our call for proposals to relevant affinity groups with the message that we are looking for a diverse speaker roster.

                                    This is around 90% of what you have to do to make such numbers happen: make sure people submit to the CFP.


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                                      That’s BS. It’s a troll because you haven’t provided any reason that particular “if clause” should be discussed, and because it implies you don’t believe women could be giving 40% of the talks without the selection process being unfairly biased in their favor.

                                      Just because you didn’t “claim anything” doesn’t mean it’s not a troll.

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                                        If a particular if-clause is trivial to “demolish”, then please do so. I’m surprised of the huge reaction here my comment received, especially by the groups of people who apparently love to downvote legitimate voices of concern. If you look through the red-tinted-glasses, everybody sooner or later turns out to be “sexist”.

                                        What you don’t realize is that by being so super-offended and so super-“fair” you actually prevent females from reaching the equal status you are apparently striving for.

                                        For me, it’s not about equal status, but equal rights. The former strives for a totalitarian system which only cares about quotas and not offending anybody. A system based on equal rights allows an open discussion and won’t shut critical voices. The latter is also much easier to implement, and honestly close to what we have today.

                                        It’s a harsh reality to admit that there just aren’t as many women as men interested in this nerdy and boring computer stuff. The number of women is growing, so is the conference participation (which is good!), however, I don’t know why it always has to be “50%”. The real numbers probably are way below that.

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                                    I don’t think it’s fair to claim that these stats are “wrong”, any more than it is when people claim that it’s wrong when the percentage of women is “too low”. Speaker selection need not be zero sum. A more useful criteria is to ask which talks were excluded. Or identify talks which didn’t belong, although that’s a perilous path to take and genuinely unpleasant, so probably best to leave it alone. Best to balance one’s concern with the evidence that actual “harm” occurred and worry less about maybe might have happeneds.

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                                      We are not in the position to claim anything. If was honestly just asking questions, and as difficult as it may be for some of the people here to accept, I wasn’t implying anything by asking.

                                      If I want to express something, I say it. I won’t use double-speak for that (like the PC-crowd loves to).

                                      Now, this thread is literally dead now. The questions were cleared up by the open-minded fellow @JordiGH long ago, nothing to see here. ;)

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                                        The argument is in the definition: a discrimination based on sex. The great accomplishment bragged about in that tweet is increasing the number of speakers of one sex, in the detriment of the other.

                                        It’s what we as a community wanted to achieve with all the “outreach” programs, but let’s call it what it is: sexism.

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                                            Discrimination is not inherently bad. We discriminate every time we pick produce at the supermarket.

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                                              To quote Heinlen,“Men are not potatoes”.

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                                                So you choose your mate and friends by a fair random draw?

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                                            I don’t understand why this is to anybody’s detriment.

                                            Do you have some reason to think that the rejected talks would have been better than the accepted ones?

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                                                Are you saying you think the male-dominated status quo was due to men’s talks being better? (These aren’t necessarily talks based on papers.)

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                                                    I notice that your entire reply is inside hypotheticals, so I assume you didn’t mean to say or suggest anything. I don’t know how to reply to a non-comment though.

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                                                      I don’t know how to reply to a non-comment though.

                                                      Yet you get 4 upvotes while doing it anyway :-)

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                                                        Yeah, it was a good feeling. :)