Conference survey - I need your input

Apr 23, 2013

I'm putting together some new teaching materials, and I need your help.

Every day I meet people in the programming community - not just women - who have never been to an open source conference, never experienced all the great learning and networking opportunities that conferences have to offer.

If you have been to one - OSCON, PyCon, JSConf, to name a few - you know that, while sexist/racist incidents do occur, they are not the norm. Unfortunately, every time such an incident does make the news, it makes it a little harder for would-be attendees to justify testing the waters. After all, conferences are expensive, and the travel takes a lot of time and energy.

It's my belief that the best way to reassure novices is to explain what tools they have at their disposal, and to give them clear steps to take if they do face an uncomfortable situation at a conference.

So I'm endeavoring to assemble some teaching materials - something small, just a few slides and some handouts. What I'm picturing is a class that takes the form of brief presentation - a small slide deck to hit the high points - followed by group discussion, or maybe a panel for a meetup night. I'd like to focus on anecdotes about both good and bad experiences that people have had with reporting conflict, and include some discussion around talking about bad conference experiences on the internet.

The goal is not to declare a right or wrong way to handle conflicts, but rather to 1) outline what resources conference attendees have available to them, and 2) start a discussion around strategies and expectations and help each other find reasonable solutions to situations they might face.

To that end, I need your input. I'm looking for a general idea of the kinds of incidents that people experience, so that we know best what to address in a workshop:

http://bit.ly/11EKp9c

This survey is a mechanism for collecting very general information. None of the information gathered in this form will be published - every answer will be treated as strictly confidential (but respondents are given an opportunity to provide an email address if they would like to be contacted further).

Spread the word, send this link around - you have my thanks in advance for anything you have to add to this discussion.