Can the Diversity Problem in Tech Conferences Be Solved?

It’s a well-heard lament in tech. Visit any tech conference somewhere in the world and you’ll be faced with rooms full of white men aged 25-40, with women, people of color, and other diversity factors being sadly underrepresented. As a tech journo, I attend many such events, and besides the marketing team and sometimes conference organizers, I can be one of few women. But it’s easy to complain about this and harder to change things. So, I want to take a look a critical look at the problem as well as some of the great ways this problem is being addressed around the world. I’d like to start by saying that my intention here is not putting the problems solely on men’s shoulders. The responsibility of diversity falls on conference organizers in that it includes the choice of venue, conference structure, how the conference is marketed, and how and which people are chosen as speakers. Further, I’d like to acknowledge that I’m using the term diversity to represent a big cornucopia of personal identities, abilities, and life experiences that aren’t always visible or disclosed. But I’ll do my best to talk about some specific problems I notice at conferences and offer some examples of solutions.

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