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Ask Slashdot: How Should Tech Conferences Embrace Diversity? 343

Posted by Soulskill
from the at-least-one-romulan-for-every-human dept.
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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Ask Slashdot: How Should Tech Conferences Embrace Diversity?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @06:55PM (#42048189)
    I think the United States experience has proven that adequately.
    • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @08:13PM (#42049239)

      "I think the United States experience has proven that adequately."

      That's because when people like this say "embracing diversity", what they really mean is forcing it on everybody.

      You cannot eliminate discrimination by legislating discrimination. Which is exactly what "affirmative action" has always been... legislated discrimination.

      • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @09:05PM (#42049733)

        Which is exactly what "affirmative action" has always been... legislated discrimination.

        In the beginning affirmative action actually made sense. It was designed to compensate for past discrimination. But there were two big problems with it:

        1. Entitlement capture by elites. People with power will always twist entitlement programs to their benefit. This has happened with social security, where the poor (with low life expectancy and high birth rates) pay in disproportionately to their benefits, while the rich rake in the benefits while paying a far lower proportion of their income as SS taxes. Same with AA: it works great at getting elite blacks in Harvard, and helps millionaire hispanic women business owners get juicy government contracts, but it no longer does much to help the truly disadvantaged.

        2. It has distracted us from creating equality of opportunity. The most glaring example of this is the stark difference in the quality of public schools for the poor and the well off. But we ignore that problem by pretending to patch it up with affirmative action and tokenism.

        • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @11:12PM (#42050707)
          You have not negated the point I made.

          But I do disagree with one of yours:

          "In the beginning affirmative action actually made sense."

          No, it didn't. Saying "Well, your father punched my father in the nose, so now I'm going to punch YOU in the nose" is not justice. Nothing is made better that way.

          • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @01:52AM (#42051695)

            No, it didn't. Saying "Well, your father punched my father in the nose, so now I'm going to punch YOU in the nose" is not justice.

            Nose punches are not passed from one generation to the next. Economic disadvantages are.

            • by Rich0 (548339)

              Well, then set quotas based on parental income, not race. If the concern is that the poor are being discriminated against, then help the poor...

          • No, it didn't.

            Actually, yes it did, still does and the statistics back it up. I remember a study showing this in academia. I can't remember the citation sadly.

            Basically the study shows this: in the USA, with affirmative action, once you correct for gender ratios in various subjects, women on average need the same qualifications as men to get the same job.

            In Euorpe which has no affirmative action, women on average need higher qualifications tham men to get the same job.

            So, apparently after affirmative action

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Ultimately the argument for diversity breaks down to instituting quota's based upon race; how else does one quantify diversity?

      Despite what the authors attempt to convince themselves, you and the public of, this is by definition bigoted racism.

      Certain people in certain demographics can't find good jobs due to educational or societal issues. Historically those demographics died off due to what can only be described as fuckery or failure to keep pace with technology. The way you attack that problem is you o

  • One idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jailbrekr (73837) <jailbrekr@digitaladdiction.net> on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @06:55PM (#42048199) Homepage

    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 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @07:12PM (#42048423)

      Just treat everyone fairly, how hard is that?

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

    • Re:One idea (Score:5, Insightful)

      by theshowmecanuck (703852) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @07:19PM (#42048509) Journal
      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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Squiddie (1942230) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @08:13PM (#42049247)
      Why is diversity even an issue? Isn't this about the content of what they are saying? Why should we care what race they are as long as the information is useful and interesting?
      • Why is diversity even an issue?

        In the case of the conference at issue, one factor was its claim to be one of the largest and most diverse Ruby conferences in Europe.

        • by RightwingNutjob (1302813) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @08:54PM (#42049625)
          Considering that the native population of Europe is almost all white, I'd say it's about as disgraceful to have all white speakers at a European conference as it is to have all East Asian speakers at a Chinese conference. Jeez. I can't take this nonsense seriously, no matter how hard I try to force myself.
          • by Hal_Porter (817932) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @09:33PM (#42049975)

            Considering that the native population of Europe is almost all white, I'd say it's about as disgraceful to have all white speakers at a European conference as it is to have all East Asian speakers at a Chinese conference.

            It's always interesting to ask people who mumble about diversity why this does not apply to China or Africa.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Darinbob (1142669)

        Because this is Ruby, which is associated with Ruby on Rails, which has a history of bad behavior (http://martinfowler.com/bliki/SmutOnRails.html). Thus all eyes are on the conferecnce wondering if it'll be another bad boy festival. No doubt most of the women interested in speaking about Ruby tend to think twice about doing this, it certainly can't be easy going to speak to a room full of fratboys who like to call themselves rockstars.

    • Re:One idea (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Infernal Device (865066) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @08:13PM (#42049249)

      > Just treat everyone fairly, how hard is that?

      Being fair isn't hugely difficult, but it's easier to raise an accusation of being unfair than it is to combat it. There are people who wait and watch and see intentional discrimination even where none exists.

      There's no easy solution. Sometimes there is no spoon.

    • 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?

      I agree. My company's policy is we don't give a shit. We'll hire anyone of any color from anywhere if they can do the job. Any racists can go be racist over the Miss America pageant or something but back here in reality at an actual business, we just need them to do their job and make us money. Honestly, nobody here cares about what color someone is in the last bit but we'll be on anyone's ass if they screw up at their job.

  • The Best Way! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @06:55PM (#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!

    • 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.
      • by SomePgmr (2021234) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @08:07PM (#42049173) Homepage

        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.

        • by DragonWriter (970822) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @08:26PM (#42049353)

          It sounds like the problem was they were working on it until this Susser guy implied on Twitter that they're racist misogynists.

          Its reading quite a bit into a comment that the lineup looks good except for being all white men -- at a conference billed as one of the most diverse in Europe in its subject area -- to say that it implies that the organizers are "racist misogynists". Rather than, you know, just overselling the diversity thing.

          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.

          The tweet at issue didn't make any accusations, and at least arguable something was concretely and legitimately wrong with BritRuby's entire invited slate being white men when the organizer was trumpeting the "diversity" of the conference.

        • by pieterh (196118) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @10:19PM (#42050319) Homepage

          Actually it's a shame he cancelled because (a) any publicity can be good and (b) this now sets up the stage for hysterical attacks on the tech scene in general and (c) this is worse, not better, for 'diverse' speakers. What does it mean now to be a non-white or female speaker at a conference? That you're there because the organizers wanted some token diversity? Insurance?

          "Hi, I'm the diversity insurance speaker. Name's Token. Here's my card."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @06:57PM (#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.

    • by solidraven (1633185) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @07:13PM (#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!
    • by Dave Emami (237460) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @08:04PM (#42049155) Homepage

      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?

  • None whatsoever (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @06:58PM (#42048247) Journal

    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 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Crypto Gnome (651401) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @07:07PM (#42048361) Homepage Journal

      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?

      • by hessian (467078) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @07:58PM (#42049061) Homepage Journal

        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.

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

        This is political correctness gone COMPLETELY INSANE.

        Granting -- only for the sake of argument -- your claim about the merit of diversity, the next sentence is still false. The part that keeps not getting mentioned is that BritRuby advertised itself as one of Europe's "most diverse" Ruby conferences. Whether or not diversity has merit, BritRuby specifically asked for attention to its "diversity", so criticism of it on that ground is legitimate simply i

    • by PickyH3D (680158)

      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.

    • /thread

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

    • by jxander (2605655)

      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, ple

    • 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

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @06:58PM (#42048251)

    Why do white people even use it?

  • by holophrastic (221104) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @07:02PM (#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.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by DragonWriter (970822)

      Instead of complaining that a conference is all white, run your own conference and make it as diverse as you want.

      You do know that John Susser -- the author of the tweet pointing out the all-white-male lineup at the sold-as-diverse BritRuby -- is a GoGaRuCo organizer [gogaruco.com] (and has been for every GoGaRuCo since 2009), right?

      Quit complaining when someone else does what they want. I don't imagine that in this case the organizer turned away non-white speakers.

      Since the 15 speakers in the all-white-male lineup

  • by Hentes (2461350) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @07:04PM (#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.

    • If they have selected 15 British Ruby programmers at random they would also get 15 white males with a high chance.

      "The profile of our conference presenters resembles what you'd expect choosing programmers at random", on any axis, probably isn't a selling point. And its probably not a great justification for an all-white-male lineup at what the organizers claim is one of the most diverse Ruby conferences in Europe.

      • by aXis100 (690904)

        Why the hell does diversity = race in a tech conference.

        I would assume diversity to mean things like:
        Skill level
        Technical background & Formal qualifications
        Job Role (developer vs project manager)

        Methinks thou dost protest too much. Making this a race issue is in itself racist.

  • Merit (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mr dirtbag (1094243) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @07:04PM (#42048325)
    I know, silly suggestion. But lets try getting the most qualified speakers we can, and ignore what color they are.
    • 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.

    • by ThorGod (456163)

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

    • By all means, let's.

      But if you're arguing that the fifteen most qualified speakers just happened to be all male (an event with a chance of X^15, where X is the proportion of male programmers, which is less than 80% by any metric) then the argument is bullshit.

  • by cosm (1072588) <thecosm3@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @07:06PM (#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.

  • 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).
  • 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

  • by twistedcubic (577194) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @07:10PM (#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.
  • embracing divertingly.

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

  • insist on culturally diverse strippers/hookers.
  • 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 h

    • 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

  • ...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 l
    • [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

    • 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

  • by kwerle (39371) <kurt@CircleW.org> on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @07:33PM (#42048751) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • by hessian (467078) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @07:50PM (#42048973) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • Just wow... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by keepper (24317) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @08:03PM (#42049139) Homepage

    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.

    • by keepper (24317)

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

    • Re:Just wow... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by thesupraman (179040) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @09:16PM (#42049853)

      a) you have absolutely no understanding of statistics, do you? the sample sizes here are representative of exactly nothing, primarily due to the
      extreme bias within the selectable community, or are you suggesting people be selected BECAUSE they are minorities?

      b) how many of the 'minorities' applied for the 5 remaining positions and were unfairly excluded?

      c) you have made NO reference to relative merit of the people you seem to think should have been included - the fact that they exist means what exactly?

      YOU are part of the problem, YOU are trying to be exclusive, YOU are labeling people above, and looking down on them.
      YOU are a racist.

      You sicked me with your holier than thou attitude. BTW, the south of ENGLAND holds grudges? oh, you didnt notice this is about a different COUNTRY, hmmm.

    • Re:Just wow... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by stephanruby (542433) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @10:02PM (#42050167)

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

      That doesn't really. Even in niche technology circles, we sometimes belong to different clusters of people we know. A better question would be to ask the organizer who he invited? And how many of those were women? And where he publicized his calls for speakers?

      Organizing a conference of good speakers is incredibly difficult. Speakers cancel all the time. The organizer should have never cancelled that event. That's disrespectful to both the speakers who already committed to the event and to the audience who RSVP'd (some of them women).

      If the organizer feels there was really a problem, he should just have pledged to make more an effort to include more women the next time around. Usually, that involves partnering with a Womans' technology-related/ruby-related organization at least six months in advance, if not a full year in advance, to publicize the call for speakers and to coaxe more of its women members to apply.

  • by Freddybear (1805256) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @08:05PM (#42049163)

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

  • Hi,

    How Should Tech Conferences Embrace Diversity?

    Here's an easy answer: Add "Anyone interested is welcome".

    There you go.

    "Embrace Diversity?" A conference of any kind is targeted to its topic(s), first, as well it should be.I don't see that including non-relevant matters such as race, gender, religion, sexual orientation or anything else should have ANY bearing upon it.

    Embrace the conference's subject matter, and welcome anyone that chooses to attend.

    Regards,

    dj

  • invite qualified, effective orators and have them educate people as is the purpose of a conference. If they happen to be all white men, so be it. If they happen to be all black women, so be it. The only thing to get angry about is if they rejected or overlooked a qualified speaker because of their race/gender/whatever. Rejecting a qualified white male because there are already "too many white males" is the same thing as rejecting anyone else because of their race or gender.

    There are a few limited cas
  • by Lord Kano (13027) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @09:11PM (#42049799) Homepage Journal

    I'm a member of a racial minority that works in technology.

    The idea of some kind of minority outreach or affirmative action, if you will, is offensive to me. It belittles and draws into question, my accomplishments. I worked hard to get where I am. Let it be about merit, not political correctness.

    LK

  • by girlinatrainingbra (2738457) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @09:16PM (#42049857)
    I am omitting any reference to my gender in my college applications. Should it matter whether I am male or female for college admissions? Should I be given a different cutoff for acceptance for being female rather than being male? Should I be given a different cutoff in ACT/SAT/AP scores based upon my gender or what people call race? Aren't all of those "re-biasing to unbias" options the same as discrimination?
    .
    I would rather be judged on my merits and abilities than on my name, my gender, my background, my parents' background. I don't want to be told or hear that I'm an affirmative action acceptance to MIT or GaTech or CalTech: but I bet that's what I'd hear anyway even if I get accepted on my merits. So the easiest way to get rid of that doubt ( that little click of suspicion that I was admitted for my gender or that the bar was set lower for me because of my gender ) is to abolish looking at gender or any sort of discriminatory sorting techniques.
    .
    I've never presented at a conference or meeting. I've barely presented more than the four or five teams a year I have to get up at school to present an essay. But my feeling is that for a conferecne, the same concepts should apply. A presentation or presenter should be selected based upon its content, its merit, its interestingness, its possible validity or intrigue, and its appropriateness to the conference goals. A presenter/presentation ought not be selected based upon their gender, their ethnicity, their national origin, their age, their corporate sponsorship (haha, I almost forgot about that, buying your way into a talk, eh?), or their deep-pockets, or their relatives, or their looks, or their "coolness factor", or to correct for any past biases/insensitivites/prejudices/blockages.
  • A dose of reality (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Livius (318358) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @09:32PM (#42049967)

    The reality which (apparently) no-one can face is that society is *in transition*.

    Have racism and other forms of discrimination gone away? Of course not. Are reverse discrimination and other well-meaning attempts to rectify systemic injustices excessive? Probably they are.

    Deliberate, malicious racism has mostly vanished, and that is significant progress that really does deserve more recognition than it gets. Some people are actually unhappy that there's been so much progress because they are deeply invested in fighting racism, and they go looking for it where it has ceased to be found, creating new injustices and hurting the credibility of everyone else on their side. The unconscious and/or systemic racism is rapidly diminishing but certainly has not completed disappeared, and some people are not completely sure what the right strategy is. That's a good thing - it means we're halfway to the goal and perhaps it means some mental effort because it's time to consider new tactics.

    In this case, however, a little statistical thought should tell us that if "the speakers were 100% white male", then we can be highly confident that there is something wrong. And therefore how to respond to the statistical anomaly is a perfectly valid question.

  • by BillX (307153) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @10:51PM (#42050555) Homepage

    So, lemme get this straight: The whole flap was set in motion by the organizer of a competing conference?

    FTFA: "The row seems to have started with a tweet from Josh Susser, a chap who, among other things, organises the Golden Gate RubyConf"

    Interesting, that's all.

  • by murdocj (543661) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @11:04PM (#42050645)

    Are people really buying the "big discussion on Twitter so we have to cancel the conference" explanation? The official explanation from the organizer says "This was by no means a ‘rage quit’ and I had every intention to continue and address these issues. However, I was not prepared to put myself in the position of legal liability and cost ramifications if a sponsor were to pull out under social media strain."

    It just sounds like he, in fact, got pissed off and pulled the plug, and is now trying to justify the decision. Unless he has some sort of contract that says that he is personally guaranteeing appearance fees, travel costs, etc, it's hard to believe that he was particularly endangered by a Twitter controversy.

    • It just sounds like he, in fact, got pissed off and pulled the plug, and is now trying to justify the decision. Unless he has some sort of contract that says that he is personally guaranteeing appearance fees, travel costs, etc, it's hard to believe that he was particularly endangered by a Twitter controversy.

      Isn't an organizer on the hook for the costs? If one or more participants pulled out, wouldn't he risk coming up short and having to personally eat whatever shortfall resulted?

      I wouldn't blame him for

  • by superdana (1211758) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @12:54AM (#42051421)
    Yes, let's ask one of the most racist, misogynist sites on the web how to embrace diversity.
  • by Tom (822) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @04:10AM (#42052455) Homepage Journal

    Did they have too many crazy pills again and handed them out in bundles?

    You should make NO EFFORT to "ensure diversity" at a tech conference. You should make every effort to ensure great speeches by great speakers, IRRESPECTIVE of their race, gender, sexuality, height, weight, or whatever else.

    If you select based on race, you are a racist. If you select based on gender, you are a sexist. That is true in both directions: Excluding blacks or women (or small, or homosexual, etc,) people who would otherwise qualify is crazy. But excluding white males who would otherwise qualify just because you want to "promote diversity" is no less racist and sexist - you are discriminating against someone based on their race and gender.

    I know that racism, sexism and other discriminations are well alive in our society. But the answer is not to replace them with the opposite evil, the answer is to grow beyond them and, in the words of Ghandi, "be the change you want to see in the world".
    We are talking about a tech conference. We tech people should know that overcompensation leads to unstable systems that will run out of control in self-reinforcing positive feedback cycles. Steer towards the optimum you want to reach, not towards the opposite of where you are at.

Never put off till run-time what you can do at compile-time. -- D. Gries

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