Diversity workshop at EuroBSDCon

 

Diversity workshop at EuroBSDCon

In September, in Paris, twenty-five members of the EuroBSDCon community came together to discuss diversity in the community, in a workshop designed by ACM W Europe members.

EuroBSDcon is the premier European conference on the open source BSD operating systems attracting about 300 highly skilled engineering professionals, software developers, computer science students and professors, and users from all over Europe and other parts of the world. As with many Tech conferences, most of 300 attendees were male and, in the past, there were concerns about biases in the community communications and interactions that may discourage the participation of female members.
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In order to bring awareness about the issue, the community leaders have partnered with ACM W Europe to offer a bias-awareness workshop.

The workshop focuses on case studies developed from actual scenarios that occurred in tech communities. After cases are introduced, the workshop participants work in groups to discuss a case of their choice. At the end of the workshop each group presents their reflection and recommendations on managing issues highlighted in their case study. The recommendations typically range from changing the community code of conduct to introducing awareness activities, encouraging individuals to speak out, and putting in place support from fellow members.

Both the community leaders and the workshop participants expressed a strong conviction that raising awareness of behaviours that institute bias is the first and essential step to improve the community.  The workshop was seen as an effective instrument for enabling a change that is needed to support diversity in technical communities and conferences. By considering case-studies based on real situations, the participants have a chance to explore the beliefs and misconceptions that present barriers to diversity in their community and to explore options for actions.

That entices them to generate ideas and solutions that fit their community and helps their community leaders decide how to use resources to bring about the positive change.

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The workshop on Sept 23, 2017 in Paris was the second one presented to the EuroBSDcon community, following the first workshop at the EuroBSDcon 2016 in Belgrade, Serbia. As with the previous conference, the response was extremely positive. To quote the feedback from one of the attendees, the diversity workshop concept is ‘brilliant and effective’.

Post-workshop discussions with the participants and the community leaders confirmed that ACM W Europe should continue to offer the workshop and advertise it more broadly. For the next BSD event, we may expand the format to include experts on biases and diversity support in order to inform about general principles that can be useful for shaping community practices to increase diversity in the BSD projects.

Additional information about the diversity workshop at the EuroBSDCon 2017 can be found at:

https://www.freebsdfoundation.org/blog/conference-recap-eurobsdcon-2017-recap/

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