This is a contributed post by participants in the 2017 Diversity and Inclusion in Scientific Computing (DISC) Unconference.
Read our prior posts in the series:
- Starting D&I Conversations at Work
- Getting Started With Open Source
- A Directory to Increase Diversity & Inclusion
- Inclusive Approaches to Recruitment & Outreach
- Communicating Feedback as a Service
Diverse & Inclusive Events and Conferences
Written by Kasia Rachuta
At the inaugural Diversity and Inclusion in Scientific Computing (DISC) Unconference in November 2017 in New York, one of the topics that came up was organizing inclusive and diverse events and conferences. How to organize such an event? Is there a checklist? Is it hard? We decided to build on work begun by the NumFOCUS DISC Committee creating a cookbook for organizing inclusive and diverse events, with the aim of encouraging and supporting such events.
You might be tempted to think that organizing diverse events is difficult, and we are aware that for a first-time organizer, the prospect may be overwhelming. That’s why we marked some of the items in the cookbook as “low-hanging fruit” (red apple emoji 🍎)) — things that have relatively high impact with low effort. We also marked high impact items (green tick box ✅ ) that take more effort to implement. Not every suggestion needs to be implemented — a steady improvement from past practices with a goal of moving towards greater inclusion over time is good progress.
Not every suggestion needs to be implemented — a steady improvement from past practices with a goal of moving towards greater inclusion over time is good progress.
It is worth noting that this cookbook will help you organize a diverse and inclusive event, but it isn’t necessarily a guide to organizing a good event. We don’t talk about budgeting, scheduling tracks or A/V capabilities. We also include links to other resources that may help you.
Our guidebook attempts to touch on all aspects of diverse events, as follows:
This is where diversity starts! Without a diverse organizing committee, making an event diverse and inclusive may be more difficult.
Venue Selection & On-Site Services
This section talks about considering people with mobility issues as well as disabilities; providing gender-neutral bathrooms and toiletries/supplies; and dedicated rooms (for nursing mothers, gender-neutral bottle feeding room, and a quiet room).
Here you will learn about common dietary needs that need to be planned for, as well as how to mark special items and what to think about when selecting beverages that will be provided.
The childcare section will help you be more inclusive of parents, for example by providing childcare grants or on-site childcare services.
Code of Conduct (CoC)
This section will teach you how to write a CoC and what a good CoC should include, how to spread awareness, how to enforce it and how to deal with violations.
We explain why offering funding to minorities and underrepresented people is important, how to go about doing so and where to seek resources.
As having diverse speakers is important to having a diverse event/conference, we explain how to invite and select speakers; we talk about incentivizing first-time speakers and attracting attendees, as well as the call for proposal (CFP) review process.
This section covers how to prepare to meet accessibility needs, how to support attendance through grants, and information you will want to collect or convey in advance regarding dietary needs, photo policy, t-shirts and demographic information.
Inclusive Practices During Check-In
You will learn about photography permissions, pronoun pins or buttons, welcoming new attendees and social events.
Our full cookbook is open sourced and available on GitHub. Everyone is welcome to submit pull requests and issues to help us improve the cookbook.
Thanks to (in alphabetical order) for their contributions: the NumFOCUS DISC Committee members who compiled the initial draft of this cookbook — Jennifer Klay, Reshama Shaikh, and Gina Helfrich — and participants in the 2017 DISC Unconference who expanded and elaborated upon the initial version: Kasia Rachuta, Ashley Otero, Dave Clements, Sarah Supp, Raniere Silva, and Tania Allard.