WordCamp US will debut a new Community Track in November that will feature sessions and workshops on topics like meetups, WordCamps, diversity and inclusion, and kids/youth. Jill Binder, Allie Nimmons, Aurooba Ahmed, and David Wolfpaw will be hosting a workshop called “Creating a Welcoming and Diverse Space” at the event. In order to adequately prepare for presenting on this sensitive topic, the team will be running the workshop in a live, interactive Zoom call on Sunday, October 6.
In light of the recent news about a central European PHP conference getting canceled due to a lack of a diverse lineup, the broader PHP community is becoming more conscious of the importance of recruiting speakers that better represent their communities.
“The Diverse Speaker Workshops that I’m running in WordPress and am bringing to other technologies have been just as important for years as they are now,” training leader Jill Binder said. “These workshops are an essential piece to the whole puzzle for creating diverse communities, attendance at events, public speakers, and ultimately, leaders and organizers.”
Binder said there are many factors in society that work against having diversity in a tech event’s public speaker lineup, but one that her team is specifically tackling in these workshops is imposter syndrome.
“Our workshops help folks bust through their impostor syndrome and develop a topic, title, pitch, bio, and outline, more confidence in public speaking, and the motivation to start speaking,” Binder said.
“The new workshop that Allie, Aurooba, David, and I are creating for WordCamp US on ‘Creating a Welcoming and Diverse Space’ is another important piece to the puzzle. We are going to be teaching mindset, community, environment, speakers, and allyship. It will be an interactive workshop where people will walk away with an action list they can start implementing in their communities (whether in person or online) right away.”
Some organizers of tech events have claimed that for certain events it is impossible to create a diverse lineup of speakers due to the demographics of the community and lack of willing participants.
Binder said that in her experience it is unlikely that more diverse people are unwilling to speak but rather that the event is not being created with more kinds of people in mind. She offered a few suggestions for organizers to consider in planning ahead for a welcoming and diverse space:
- Have the event at different times that work for people with families. For example, don’t hold them all at 9pm at night. Weekend afternoons may work. Ask those with children what works for them.
- Consider venues that are not centered around alcohol (like bars and pubs). This opens up the event to attendees who are under 21, recovering addicts, folks who belong to a religious group that prohibits alcohol, and many other people who don’t feel safe or welcome in an alcohol-focused environment.
- Choose venues that have accessible alternatives to stairs, such as elevators and ramps.
- Try to have more diversity in the organizing team.
- Bring in more diverse speakers. Don’t know how? Check out the Diverse Speaker Workshop – in WordPress and in other techs communities.
She also recommends organizers directly invite more people into their communities.
“Ask people in your network to introduce you to diverse people they may know who work with WordPress or your technology,” Binder said. “You can even go out and find those communities in your area – online and in person – or ask people to make an introduction for you to those groups. Examples of groups: Ladies Learning Code, Black Girls Code. Form genuine, friendly relationships with community members so that they can help you reach the WordPress enthusiasts in their communities.”
Binder said the team will go into more detail on these topics during the workshop. Anyone who would like to learn more is welcome to attend the online public rehearsal for the workshop on October 6, at 3pm-5pm ET. This is a unique opportunity for those who cannot attend WordCamp US to join in on one of the interactive workshops. Comment on the Community team’s post with contact information and workshop leaders will send the zoom link and more information.