Conferences are meant for presenting and developing new perspectives, broaden one’s expertise, to network and simply have a good time with kindred spirits. Conferences connect people in many ways. However, the audience of speakers and attendees is still comparatively homogeneous – especially when it comes to tech.
It is by no means a representation of all the experts from different backgrounds who make their daily contributions to hardware and software development. In many instances people are aware of this and proactively work on breaking down barriers. Among other activities, the organizers of JSConf and CSSConf for example have been running an anonymous Call for Proposals (CFP) process for some time now. Currently, 27 percent of their participants are female or LGTBQ. Other minority factors included, such as origin or age, 37 percent are not white, male and under 40. The organizers are committed to raise the percentage year by year. This makes JSConf and CSSConf pioneers in terms of diversity – and yet they have not reached a balanced ratio.
The reasons are certainly as diverse as the conference participants, but a lack of role models is common, as are negative experiences from earlier, less permeable selection processes or everyday work life. Global Diversity CFP Day was created by Peter Aitken, a conference organiser, to reduce this imbalance, to increase the pool of proposals and speakers, to encourage more diversity and to provide experienced mentors to interested people.