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Why We Care About Inclusivity (steelcityrubyconf.org)
40 points by carols10cents 1903 days ago | hide | past | web | 22 comments | favorite



I like seeing stuff like this. I especially like the explicit call out of vendors and sponsors who too often get a free ride.

It makes me more likely to attend the event - and I'm saying that as a white, middle-class, middle-aged male developer.

Because, quite frankly, I'm getting too old and tired to deal with the crap boys-club behaviour I occasionally encounter at technical events. I certainly don't see it at the majority of events - but I see it far too much. And since I am a white, middle-class, middle-aged male I'm probably not seeing all the crap that does happen.

Getting a guarantee that the organisers aren't going to stand for it will encourage me to attend their event. Hopefully it will encourage some of the folk I know who've stopped attending technical events due to repeated asshattery. With any luck it will self-filter some of the asshats of the world from attending too.


Just to counterbalance all the negative commenting going on in this thread, I think that this is a great step forward. This is setting the bar for future conferences in tech.

As a community, we have a huge opportunity to bring in a new generation of people into our field. We will squander that opportunity if programmers and startup workers get stereotyped badly. To me, it's not about the details of the policy, it's the fact that the organizers care about the issue and are doing something to signal that much to their attendees.

I have a hard time empathizing with anyone who claims that such a simple policy is a bad thing. I don't know anything about the posters of those sentiments and their backgrounds. In the end, we should treat people the way we want to be treated, and I don't want to be harassed. That's the end of the story for me.


Great. Now I have to avoid the elevators -- if I go in and a female feels harassed by being "trapped" with a guy in an elevator I get kicked out. If I don't, I get kicked out because I won't share an elevator with a female.

Not to mention the crap about respecting peoples religion. It is literally impossible to do that while being inclusive of LGBT people since homosexuality is an abomination in Christianity and Islam (or Islamic customs) mandates separation of the sexes. Not to mention that religion is a choice, whereas the race you were born isn't.

I am not advocating tricking muslims to eat pork at the conference or anything, but some groups happen to complain a lot over relatively insignificant things.

And in the end the goal is not inclusivity. It is the sharing of code, tools and practices related to these things.


I'm from a huge Catholic family and my life is full of people who (a) go to church and (b) are horrified at discrimination over sexual orientation. I'm sure there are plenty of Muslims who are equally frustrated over being automatically judged by the standards of the worst members of their community.

Similarly: I know plenty of people with moral dietary restrictions --- and the hipster-friendly vegan mentality is surely more common than Kosher and Halal/Haraam --- who don't make a giant stink over pork being served at conferences. I don't keep vegan, Kosher, or Halal, but I'm not enough of a close-minded idiot to literally be offended that those people exist.

Incidentally: accused of harassment just for getting in an elevator with someone of the opposite sex? Huh?


Incidentally: accused of harassment just for getting in an elevator with someone of the opposite sex? Huh?

He's referring to an incident where a conference speaker had drinks in the hotel bar with other attendees and at 4am said she was tired and left to go to her room. A man left the bar and followed her into the elevator and only after being secluded asked to continue talking with her in his room. edit: Found the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v...

Her point was that his approach made her uncomfortable. He had the opportunity to speak to her in a public place in the bar but chose an elevator.

I think he chose the elevator because it was less stressful to approach a stranger with no one to witness a probable rejection. Of course it made it more stressful for her to turn down a stranger while trapped alone with him.

She received some serious backlash from men who think it was perfectly acceptable to tail a woman into an elevator to engage them in conversion while they are trapped with you, and she would be completely wrong for feeling threatened.

Coincidentally it's the same type of guy who would have told her it was her fault for getting attacked if the man had raped her.

Edit: Also, I can't believe HN is supporting tomjen3's comment. It's borderline parody, but not.


> Coincidentally it's the same type of guy who would have told her it was her fault for getting attacked if the man had raped her.

You're way over the line with that one. It's one thing for a man to think, "I don't owe it to women to walk on eggshells around them." That view might be a bit naive, but it is a very different and much less despicable thing than supporting rapists and blaming rape victims for what happened to them.

I thought what he did was poorly considered, but he didn't show any ill intent, so it's very unfair to associate him with men who harm women. Why do I care about this? Because drawing that association actually plays into rapists' common delusion that trying to rape women is a normal and acceptable thing. It is important to draw the line between behavior that is merely inconsiderate and behavior that's actually evil, even if you dislike both.


I agree with most of your comment, thank you. It was a good response to what I wrote.

>so it's very unfair to associate him with men who harm women.

I wasn't associating the person in the elevator with people who victim blame. I was speaking of people who responded in a backlash to her video describing the incident.

Allow me to expand on that line you quoted to clarify.

Let's take this comment, for instance:

>The reason there was a huge shitstorm over it was that all he did was to ask -- he didn't do anything else.

What he's doing here is invaliding her discomfort. He's implying she should have some way to detect a rapist and her danger-detection is faulty. She shouldn't have been uncomfortable because he didn't rape her.

It only works in hindsight and it's "not" victim blaming only because she wasn't victimized.

Claiming a person should know someone is not a rapist necessarily requires thinking a person can know someone is a rapist.

edit: removed repetitive sentence for clarity.


The reason there was a huge shitstorm over it was that all he did was to ask -- he didn't do anything else.

And yeah he asked her out in a situation where he wouldn't be humiliated if she turned him down.

And jumping from the conclusion that I support rapists because I think it is okay for men to choose a place that is reasonably private to ask females out -- well I just can't see a productive debate springing from that, so I will refrain from commenting it.


Do we really have to have a debate about "don't follow lone women into elevators at 4AM to ask them out at tech conferences"? I'm sorry, I don't think we seriously have to debate this.


> I'm sure there are plenty of Muslims who are equally frustrated over being automatically judged by the standards of the worst members of their community.

I don't believe this is true.

I'm from a huge Muslim family. The majority of the women/girls in my family are not educated, had marriages arranged from birth (usually to first cousins) and the men in the family genuinely believe that this is the in their best interest. This is somewhat representative of life for girls/women in rural Pakistan, a country of 180,000,000+ people, 95% of which are Muslim.

My family is full of people who find homosexuality repugnant. Homosexuality is a crime against nature in Pakistan, punishable with a prison sentence. All Muslims I've met, in my family or otherwise, inside and outside of Pakistan, believe that this is a perfectly good state of affairs and have no interest in inclusivity for groups they deem inappropriate.


Not to mention the crap about respecting peoples religion.

I'm sorry - I've looked a few times. I don't see anything there about "respecting peoples religion" in there.

It's an anti-harassment policy. It's about actions - not thoughts. I can disrespect Christianity (or whatever) as much as I like. I just can't be an asshole about it.


A lot of members of privileged groups sometimes retort that "You can't say anything anymore!" or "Politicial Correctness has gone too far!" to any attempted

You're talking about straw men that don't exist. Please be more honest in your debate. There is currently much much much more sexism going on against women than crazy rules that stop people from saying anything. (e.g. Speeches at Dell Denmark telling everyone that it's great there's so few women and they need to keep the women out). (The same can be said about other forms of opression (race/sexuality/gender expression/abelism/etc.))


> We wanted to increase the likelihood of attendees seeing people who they share something in common with

Great. Steel City Ruby Conference thinks that the color of someone's skin or the shape of their genitals is the way that audience members might share something in common with a speaker.

Personally, I care a lot more about whether a speaker shares my interest in coding, entrepreneurship, etc.

Beyond that, sharing interests in reading materials, history, woodworking, or gaming might be nice.

But, no, what we get is racism and sexism: "We think the only commonality worth talking about are the superficial physical ones".

I think Martin Luther King would be sad about how far short these folks have fallen from the goals he set out.


Way to cherry pick words to make your argument. You didn't just pluck a sentence out of context, you plucked a small part of a sentence that ends with precisely what you are trying to argue for.

For those whose reading comprehension skills are not blinded by anger, here is the full sentence:

We wanted to increase the likelihood of attendees seeing people who they share something in common with, provide some new people with the opportunity to speak at a conference, and (most importantly) have great people give presentations that inspire others.

(italics mine)


When the problem is murder, and you adopt a policy that condemns murder, you don't call the policymaker a murderer. The first action (murder) constitutes taking someone's life, and the other (the policy) amounts to a prohibition on that. They're opposites. See?

> But, no, what we get is racism and sexism: "We think the only commonality worth talking about are the superficial physical ones".

You do realize that there is a very real problem with sexism, right? That is, there are people who are already behaving badly on the basis of superficial physical differences. If you can step back from what you've written, maybe you can realize the absurdity of labeling an anti-harassment policy as "sexism and racism."

In short: chill out. If you're at the conference for the speakers, then this policy isn't about you. If you're there for the booth babes, then you're the type of brogrammer being targeted, and your comment would then make complete sense. I don't think that's who you are, though, so seriously: chill. This anti-harassment policy isn't sexism.


>When the problem is murder, and you adopt a policy that condemns murder, you don't call the policymaker a murderer. The first action (murder) constitutes taking someone's life, and the other (the policy) amounts to a prohibition on that. They're opposites. See?

When the problem is not X, and your main policy is "condemn X", then you aren't addressing the real issues behind conference attendance, etc.

So I'd argue the whole "harassment"/"sexism" thing is an overblown out of proportion thing, and I'd rather hear about your bloody actual content.

Not to mention that the me-too emphasis on "inclusion"/"sexism-fighting" etc fad sends people away. I want to come there to learn about Ruby and have some nice chats with other developers, etc, not to fight social ills the presense of which I might not even agree with in the first place ("Oh, someone show some slides that included some humorous sexual innuendo in a programming conference, we must stop this sexism and condemn it for all eternity"). If someone stomps an ant or bites a bat a la Ozzy in his next presentation, will we also get the obligatory PETA references in every conference program?

>You do realize that there is a very real problem with sexism, right? That is, there are people who are already behaving badly on the basis of superficial physical differences.

Superficial as regards to programming and intellectual capacity. Because, in other ways not only are they not superficial but an extremely powerful biological mechanism is at play regarding those differences. I.e men are attracted to women and vice versa, and this is even how the whole species (including conference organizers) currently exists.


As the blog post author I'd like to add some clarification here. By "seeing" I meant see them speak at the conference, not necessarily that the things they share in common are things you can see. Commonalities can cover a very wide range of things including, but certainly not limited to, sex, gender, and race. That being said, people who fall into some of these visible minority groups often have a hard time finding role models in the programming community. I think it is awesome if conference organizers can help with that, and do not feel that it is in conflict with also providing the best speakers possible.


This is a stock reply from the privileged group against policies that try to be inclusive. "You're not really anti-sexism, because you're making references to sex!! I'm a real anti-sexist because I didn't mention it".

Sometimes members of the privileged group think that only individual words are the only thing that can make things sexist, and if you don't have those words, you're a-ok! However there can also be a culture, memes and practices in a group that can result in less people of the oppressed group from taking part. That's what anti-sexist things are designed to approach.

(Likewise with race/ability/etc.)


Great to see man-child behavior being so directly addressed in their anti-harassment policy.


True, but it's also a shame that it has to be addressed at all.


I hope this pans out; the Ruby community has historically had a lot of behavior at conferences that isn't just slightly offensive, but genuinely disgusting.

In general I often find myself on the "the line was blurry, the intent was not to offend, so let's educate" side of things, but when there is a track-record of behavior like I have seen, something set out in black and white like this is clearly needed.


They have discovered buzzwords!




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