Over at The Recompiler, I have a new essay out: “Toward A !!Con Aesthetic”. I talk about (what I consider to be) the countercultural tech conference !!Con, which focuses on “the joy, excitement, and surprise of programming”. If you’re interested in hospitality and inclusion in tech conferences — not just in event management but in talks, structure, and themes — check it out. (Christie Koehler also interviews me about this and about activist role models, my new consulting business, different learning approaches, and more in the latest Recompiler podcast.)
- More data on gender and literary prizes | Nicola Griffith at Goodreads (6 August): “[…] here are two new pie charts, following on from my previous post about what kind of book wins awards, this time on the most recent 15 years of the IMPAC Dublin Award and the Costa Novel Award. IMPAC CostaAs you can see, the IMPAC, one of the richest book prizes in the world, given for “excellence in world literature,” gives zero out of the last 15 prizes to stories by women about women—but 11 to stories by men about men.”
- Uncomfortable conversations about money | Accidentally in Code (5 August): “When it comes to speaking at a conference which involves some travel costs, there are four main options: 1. The conference pays. 2. The company you work for pays. 3. You pay. 4. You don’t go.”
- Why BioWare’s games inspire a unique kind of fandom | Sam Maggs at PCGamer (23 July): “the knowledge that we all feel the same passionately intense emotions for these lumps of pixels, no matter how well-written and complex they may be, gives us an instant connection—and isn’t that the best part of belonging to any fandom? We’re all in on the joke, all on the same level, and that’s what brings us together. But not all fan-created content is made completely in celebration of BioWare’s games; part of being a responsible and engaged fan is also writing constructive criticism of media we know could do better. And though not always perfect, BioWare is one of the few companies with a readily-accessible creative team that really takes note of and utilizes thoughtful, fan-written criticism. And being listened to is paramount to a fandom who dedicate so much time and emotional energy to these characters.”
- Frances Oldham Kelsey, Who Saved U.S. Babies From Thalidomide, Dies at 101 | Robert McFadden at The New York Times (7 August): “[…] some data on the drug’s safety troubled Dr. Frances Oldham Kelsey, a former family doctor and teacher in South Dakota who had just taken the F.D.A. job in Washington, reviewing requests to license new drugs. She asked the manufacturer, the William S. Merrell Company of Cincinnati, for more information. […] Dr. Kelsey, who died on Friday at the age of 101, became a 20th-century American heroine for her role in the thalidomide case, celebrated not only for her vigilance, which spared the United States from widespread birth deformities, but also for giving rise to modern laws regulating pharmaceuticals.”
- Lost in Transition: ‘Rat Queens Special #1: Braga’ | Charlotte Finn at Comics Alliance (6 August): “Hi, I’m Charlotte Finn. I’m a lifelong comics fan and last year, I admitted to myself that I was transgender. Coming out as transgender means reassessing a lot about your life, your place in the world, and what that world’s been telling you about yourself before you even realized who you really were. In this occasional series, I’m going to be applying that reassessment to comics that feature people like me, or close to being like me, and look them over with a fresh set of eyes. Are they good? Are they bad? Are they somehow both, at the same time? In this regular series, I’ll offer my thoughts.”
- How to Ensure You Don’t Hire Anyone | Morgane Santos at Medium (7 August): “A while ago I was looking for a new job, and as such, I interviewed at hella companies, from Big Names™ to tiny start-ups no one’s ever heard of, looking for the ~perfect place to trade my labor for wages~. Throughout this process, I had some hilarious interactions with companies who clearly aren’t actually trying to hire anyone. Let’s examine some of their fumbles and mishaps, and learn how to really turn people off from ever joining your company!”
- Play Your Way: Women and Magic the Gathering (part 1) (part 2) | Nicole Jekich at Across the Board Games (13 July): “in April there was some internet hubbub over recent articles written by male Magic the Gathering players and their advice on how to get more women into the hobby. I have no qualms with men looking to help diversify the MTG fan base and to make official events and tournaments more welcoming. I do feel that what these articles lacked is input and experiences from women gamers. I wanted to learn more about how other women enjoy MTG – to understand, through reading their experiences, preferences, and suggestions how we as a community could help make women feel more welcome and how to bring more women into the MTG game and community. So I created a survey for women participants who used to or currently play Magic the Gathering. I asked women to answer questions about their history with MtG, the hows and whys. The survey was shared via social media and within 2 weeks, I collected 97 responses.”
- Call for submissions: Instar books finction Anthology #000001 Almost Void | Instar Books (15 June): “For fiction that involves some or all of the following qualities: Privileging imaginative transformation of experience over experience directly (i.e., not necessarily memoir by other means); Concerned with atypical subject matter; Concerned with atypical emotional states (trauma, isolation, Zen acceptance, etc.); Concerned with sex; Written by people who haven’t necessarily had access to traditional means of publication by the literary establishment; and/or Funny, yet about something terrible.”
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Thanks to everyone who suggested links.
In response to a thread on a private mailing list, a prominent woman in tech wrote this fantastic rundown of the details of getting paid to speak, including which speaker bureaus represent which kinds of speakers. We are re-posting an anonymized version of it with her permission in the hopes that with better information, more women will get paid fairly for their public speaking. Paying women fair wages for their work is a feminist act. This advice applies primarily to United States-based speakers; if you have information about international speaker bureaus, please share it in the comments!
Question: I’m interested in speaking with [members of the private mailing list] who either speak via a speaker bureau/agency, or otherwise get paid for their speaking gigs. I have done an absolute ton of speaking in the past few years (including several keynotes) and I know I’m at the level where I could be asking for money for my speaking, and I also need to reduce the amount I sign up for in order to focus on my own projects. So I’m on the market for an agency and would love to hear numbers from other folks who charge for giving talks. I know several women who ask for $1000-$2000 plus travel costs for engagement, but would love to know if that is typical or low as I definitely do know dudes who get much more.
PS this was a very scary email to write! Asking for others to value your work as work is really difficult!
Answer: I have a lot of experience with this & have done a lot of research. The main U.S. bureaus are:
- The Leigh Bureau, which represents Nate Silver, Joi Ito, danah boyd, Tim Wu, Don Tapscott, Malcolm Gladwell, etc. Leigh tends to represent so-called public intellectuals, and to do a lot of work crafting the brand and visibility of their speakers in well-thought-out laborious campaigns. It tends to represent people for whom speaking is their FT job (or at least, it’s what pays their bills). Leigh does things like organize paid author tours when a new book comes out. Being repped by Leigh is a major time commitment.
- The Washington Speakers Bureau: Jonathan Zittrain, Madeleine Albright, Tony Blair, Katie Couric, Lou Dobbs, Ezra Klein. These folks specialize in DC/public policy.
- The Harry Walker Agency: Jimmy Wales, Bill Clinton, Larry Summers, Steve Forbes, Bono, Steven Levitt, Cass Sunstein. These folks tend to rep celebrities and DC types: busy people for whom speaking is a sideline.
- The Lavin Agency: Jared Diamond, Anderson Cooper, Jonathan Haidt, Lewis Lapham, Steve Wozniak. Lavin does (sort of) generalist public intellectual think-y type people, but is way less commitment than e.g. Leigh. Lavin reps people whose main work is something other than speaking.
(There are probably lots of others including ones that are more specialized, but these are the ones I know.)
I went with Lavin and they’ve been fine. The primary benefits to me are 1) They bring me well-paying talks I wouldn’t otherwise get; 2) they take care of all the flakes so I don’t have to, and they vet to figure out who is a flake; 2) they negotiate the fee; and 3) they handle all the boring logistical details of e.g. scheduling, contractual stuff, reimbursements, etc. I mostly do two types of talks:
- The event organizers approach me, and I send them to Lavin. About 80% of these invitations are just [stuff] I would never do, because it pays nothing and/or the event sounds dubious, the expected audience is tiny, I have no idea why they invited me, or whatever. But, about 20% are people/events that I like or am interested in, like advocacy groups, museums, [technical standards bodies], [technical conferences]; TED-x. If I really like the organizers and they are poor, sometimes I will waive my fee and just have them pay expenses. (Warning: if there is no fee, the bureau bows out and I have to handle everything myself. Further warning: twice I have waived my fee and found out later that other speakers didn’t. Bah.) If I get paid for these events, it’s usually about 5K.
- The event organizers approach Lavin directly, requesting me. These tend to be professional conferences, where they’re staging something every year and need to come up with a new keynote annually. These are all organized by a corporation or an industry association with money — e.g., Penguin Books, Bain, McKinsey, the American Society of Public Relations Professionals, the Institute of E-Learning Specialists, etc. I do them solely for the money, and I accept them unless I have a scheduling conflict or I really cannot imagine myself connecting with the theme or the audience. These talks are way less fun than the #1 kind above, but they pay more: my fee is usually 25K but occasionally 50K.
For all my talks I get the base fee plus hotel and airfare, plus usually an expenses buyout of about $200 a day. A few orgs can’t do a buyout because of internal policies: that’s worse for me because it means I need to save receipts etc., which is a hassle. Lavin keeps half my fee, which I think is pretty typical. In terms of fees generally, I can tell you from working with bureaus from the other side that 5K is a pretty typical ballpark fee that would usually get a speaker with some public profile (like a David Pogue-level of celebrity) who would be expected to be somewhat entertaining. The drivers of speaker fees are, I think 1) fame, 2) entertainment value and 3) expertise/substance, with the last being the least important. The less famous you are, the more entertaining you’re expected to be. Usually for the high-money talks, there is at least one prep call, during which they tell me what they want: usually it’s a combination of “inspiration” plus a couple of inside-baseball type anecdotes that people can tell their friends about afterwards. The high-money talks are definitely less fun than the low-money ones: the audiences are less engaged, it’s more work for me to provide what they need, everybody cares less, etc.
When I spoke with [a guy at one agency] he told me some interesting stuff about tech conferences, most of which I sadly have forgotten :/ But IIRC I think he said tech conferences tend to pay poorly if at all, because the assumption is that the speaker is benefiting in other ways than cash — they’re consultants who want to be hired by tech companies, they’re pitching a product, trying to hire engineers, building their personal brand, or whatever. Leigh says they’re not lucrative and so they don’t place their people at them much. The real money is in the super-boring stuff, and in PR/social media conferences.
Hope this is useful!
We certainly found it useful. Here are some additional resources which came up in the mailing list thread:
- Chiu-ki Chan and Cate Huston’s Technically Speaking newsletter
- How to ask to get paid to speak
- Sam Horn’s seminar on “How to Get Paid to Speak About Your Book”. There’s one coming up at the San Francisco Writers Conference in February
- Jenn Lukas: A Formula for Speaking Fees
- Ethan Marcotte: Questions for Event Organizers
Update Dec 30: Sumana’s offer has been extended until Dec 31 at 1:30pm!
I’m donating up to USD $15,000 to the Stumptown Syndicate — depending on how much you are willing to match by December 29th. Please join me by donating today and doubling your impact!
Stumptown Syndicate works to create resilient, radically inclusive tech and maker communities that empower positive change. Open Source Bridge, one of its core programs, is the tech conference that has imprinted itself on my heart — informative technical talks, inspiring ideas that help me improve how I do my work, and belly laughs and great food. I love that I can tell friends “Come to OSB!” without having to add “but watch out for…” the way I do with so many other conferences. Hospitality lives in the DNA of Open Source Bridge, so it’s a place where people from different projects and backgrounds can share their experiences as equals. I especially appreciate that it’s an inclusive all-genders tech conference where I’m never the only woman in the room; in fact, in 2014, half the speakers were women.
Stumptown demonstrates its values before, during, and after OSBridge, and documents them to make a playbook other event planners can reuse. The Syndicate encourages volunteers to help make Open Source Bridge happen (showing appreciation by giving them free access to the conference), encourages them with a reassuring form and clear expectations, and mentors them with structured orientations. The Code of Conduct, accessible venues, clearly labelled food, cheap or free admissions, and open source conferenceware all model effective and ethical collaboration.
But, until now, Stumptown Syndicate hasn’t had the money to host childcare at its events, to offer travel scholarships to OSBridge speakers from other countries, or improve the audiovisual experience (with faster video processing or transcripts/captioning). And it’s had to host its events at borrowed or rented venues, which reduces the Syndicate’s ability to nurture new events and communities; more money in the bank opens the possibility of a more permanent event space.
Still, the Syndicate’s done a lot since its founding in December 2010. Every year, Stumptown Syndicate supports or directly hosts 2-4 events in Portland. Hundreds of participants have grown, personally and professionally, via OSBridge, WhereCampPDX, Ignite Portland, BarCamp Portland, and the user groups it supports. Its work on Calagator keeps the community connected, and its focus on inclusion and diversity has helped everyone in Portland’s tech scene benefit. Including, probably, you, if you’re reading this. And it’s done that with about USD $110,000 each year, a mix of donations and sponsorships.
With your help, the Syndicate can plan further in advance and make the events you already love even better. And if Stumptown Syndicate volunteers don’t have to worry as much about fundraising, they can concentrate more on revamping Calagator, mentoring newer developers, and enriching Portland’s tech scene — and documenting their successes so people like me can copy them.
That’s why I’m willing to give up to USD $15,000 to Stumptown Syndicate. I’ll match donations starting today and ending on December 29th, whether corporate or individual, one-time or recurring memberships. Please donate now to help raise USD $30,000 for the infrastructure of inclusivity!
Stumptown Syndicate is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. Contributions to Stumptown Syndicate are tax-deductible in the U.S.
Google is offering 5 grants for women in computer science (either working in or studying it) to attend EuroBSDcon 2014 — the main European conference about the open-source BSD family of operating systems — in Sofia, Bulgaria, to take place September 25-28. The grants cover conference registration as well as up to €1000 in travel costs.
Women who have a strong academic background and have demonstrated leadership (though if you don’t think you do, you should apply anyway) are encouraged to apply. Google’s form requires selecting either “male” or “female” as a gender; if you are not binary-identified but are marginalized in computer science and wish to apply, make use of the contact information for this Google program.
Also note that EuroBSDcon does not appear to have a code of conduct or anti-harassment policy. (If I’m wrong, add it to the wiki’s list of conferences that have anti-harassment policies!)
- Double Union — Updates to the page about how becoming a member works: Feminist hackerspace Double Union has updated their page and process for becoming a member. (August 1)
- HOPE X: Hackerspace Community Dynamics Meet-Up | MIT Center for Civic Media: Liveblog of a discussion on building communities within hackerspaces. (July 21)
- The Case Against Cards Against Humanity: Is Max Temkin a Horrible Person? – The Daily Beast: Super interesting point about satire in this one, along with some discussion of consent. (July 29)
- Escher Girls: DMCA takedown requests used to silence feminist critique of a comic artist. (August 1)
- SDCC 2014 – a slow but disappointing evolution of geek diversity | the travelling unicorn: On (the total utter lack of) native representation in San Diego Comic Con panels. (August 3)
- Jason Aaron identifies as Feminist, sells us on new Female Thor | Feminism/geekery Reassurance that the new female Thor is not just a publicity stunt, Jason Aaron identifies as a feminist and indicates that he sees a female Thor as a natural progression.
- tim | Ethical Culture Fit: Read this one over carefully—there’s a lot to take away on “free speech”, “speech” vs “action”, and much more. (July 30)
- This Chart Graphs Diversity in Science Fiction and Fantasy Films. Guess How Wide The Gap Is? | The Mary Sue: It’s very wide, according to data on the top 100 grossing films analyzed by book publishers Lee and Low. Bonus fact: out of 8 people of color protagonists, 6 of them are Will Smith. (July 30)
- Marvel Announces Princess Leia-Led Star Wars Comics Mini-Series At Comic-Con | The Mary Sue: “Mark Waid and Terry Dodson’s Star Wars: Princess Leia will explore Leia’s elevation to the position of leader of the rebellion, as well as the personal impact of the destruction of her homeworld Alderaan.” It will only be a 5 issue run, however. (July 29)
- There and Back Again: A Wizard’s Tale by Tifa Robles | GatheringMagic.com – Magic: The Gathering Website: On how playing Magic helped her gain strength and direction in her life. (July 31)
We link to a variety of sources, some of which are personal blogs. If you visit other sites linked herein, we ask that you respect the commenting policy and individual culture of those sites.
You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on Pinboard, Delicious or Diigo; or the “#geekfeminism” tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).
Thanks to everyone who suggested links.
This is a guest post by April Wright. April is a graduate student in evolutionary biology at the University of Texas at Austin. When she’s not crunching data at her computer, she teaches courses for novice biologists so they can learn some computation. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, gaming, running with her dogs and spending time in the kitchen. You can get ahold of her at her website or Twitter.
So I wrote a blog post that went a little bit viral the other day. And a lot of people have asked in the past couple days what can be done to improve the atmosphere at programming meetings. I’ve been chewing on that pretty substantially.
I’ve had a lot of good discussions over the past couple days (help yourself to warm fuzzies here).
Reader bioatmosphere made a very good point in the comments, pulled out below:
The burden to fix things shouldn’t be on you just because you’re experiencing them
She’s right, of course. And that reminded me of this post by Cate Huston, which closes with a section called “Changing the Conversation”. I’ll copy the crucial bit (do read the whole thing, though) below:
Are you doing meaningful work?
Do you feel appreciated?
Do you feel respected?
And I’m going to tack on one more:
Do you feel like you’re part of something?
Because I think that’s what really got me: I felt like I was part of something, then I didn’t. It’s not just being snubbed that hurts, it’s a sense of loss of a community I kinda thought I fit with.
Since I have some ears bent towards me for a bit: People who feel integrated in communities and happy at meetings, what about it? What about these communities and meetings that makes you feel appreciated? Or respected? Or part of something? And what could you do to help someone else feel that?
Get at me via whatever channel preferred. [Mod note: while we normally do not encourage anonymous comments, they are acceptable on this post. Please note that your IP address will be logged, but is only visible to blog administrators.]
This week’s winners, several men attending this year’s North American PyCon, we know of thanks to a guest post from Lisa Hewus Fresh. Lisa is a Python programmer living the good life in beautiful Portland, Oregon. You can follow her on Twitter @bugZPDX.
For context: throughout the conference, open spaces were available for hacking and discussion. Geek feminists of all genders hung out in one of them, a feminist hacker space — a “a great place to go relax, decompress, and hang out with friends” and to “always find other women to hang with”. This year’s North American PyCon also featured 1/3 talks by women, a charity auction to benefit PyLadies, a talk by Naomi Ceder discussing her experiences as she transitioned from male to female while staying involved in the Python community, and a keynote by Python founder Guido van Rossum in which he chose to balance the playing field by only taking questions from women. In general, I believe women and feminism were more consistently visible at PyCon 2014 than at any previous North American PyCon.
Lisa’s story (Warning: contains one quoted ableist slur):
PyCon 2014 in Montréal was a first for me. As a person new to programming, Python, and even Portland, Oregon, I didn’t really know anyone in the community — famous or not. The point is that I didn’t personally know anyone involved in the discussion I am about to recount.
Six or seven of us PyCon attendees were sitting in the lobby of the Hyatt, late one night, discussing a multitude of subjects, such as which text editor is best, how best to name a Git repo, what talks we attended, and so on. I just happened to be the only female in the group and was really enjoying the friendly banter. Someone accurately described it as like being in IRC, but in person.
At some point, a couple of additional men wandered in and came over to our group. One of the men was really angry, and was saying how horrible PyCon was now and how much better it was before. He said that next year he was going to have a “Brospace” right next to the feminist space because “It’s just not right. Women have ruined PyCon!” He then looked at me and said, “No offense.” I’ve been in plenty of misogynistic situations, and as the only female in a group of unknown men I chose to keep my mouth shut and avoid danger.
Everyone else just sat there as well and let him talk a bit more. He went on about how Guido van Rossum, the inventor of Python, “doesn’t give a fuck about anything! Well, he cares about PSF [the Python Software Foundation] but nothing else!” and how unfair he thought these women are making things for men. One of the men in our group said something like, “Well, when you have been excluded from something for years, then you can complain, but you don’t know what that feels like because this environment has always been yours.” The guy responded, “Yeah OK but this is TOO much! Now they just want to take over the whole thing and push us men out!”
He went on to rant about someone who was banned from PyCon for two years. I am not clear on who this is or why they were banned, but the same member of our group firmly said, “Rules are rules. We all know what they are ahead of time and he violated the rules.” The angry man replied, “But he’s done SO much for this community! Yeah, what he did was stupid and wrong, but TWO years?!” The man in our group said, “So? The rules apply to everyone and it’s strictly against the rules so it doesn’t matter if he is a great guy and did a lot for Python and open source. That doesn’t give him permission to break the rules.”
The angry guy, who was getting angrier, started talking about a tweet that someone, who was in or near the feminist space, allegedly sent. He claimed that the content of the tweet berated a male who mistakenly entered the feminist space where he didn’t belong. How could this person be so mean to this poor man and exclude him? At this point, another man who had been lounging back on the couch, quietly typing on his laptop yet listening to every word, very calmly said to the angry guy, “Yeah, I guess that wasn’t very nice. But one instance doesn’t really concern me. Imagine if it were hundreds of instances of this type of behavior. This would be a problem and I’d be really concerned.”
I could see the pieces fall into place for the angry man as he realized that he was upset about the very thing that marginalized groups have been upset about for years.
Everyone was silent and then notsoangryanymoreman said, “I guess you are right. I’ve been thinking about this the wrong way. I’m going to go to bed before I say anything else that’s stupid.” And he left. Slayed with logic!
I was so incredibly proud of this group of men I didn’t know. My mind was completely blown that the conversation went the way it did. Thank you Honza Kral and Asheesh Laroia for being awesome. I didn’t know you then but I’m sure glad I know you now.
Thank you for the story, Lisa! I’d like to highlight a few things that I especially like about this story:
- Men speaking up and using their privilege to argue with sexist speech, helping out when a woman chose to protect her own safety by remaining silent
- The allies stood up for the conference’s code of conduct, late at night while in a hotel lobby technically outside the conference venue
- So much better than that PyCon thing last year
- They changed that guy’s mind! It can happen!
So, here’s that cookie:Does anyone else have any cookies to spare this week?
* Disclaimer: cookies may not be baked weekly! This offer does not commit Geek Feminism, its bloggers, affiliates, sponsors, commenters or fans to a posting schedule.
This is an anonymous guest post.
I have some questions.
Why was there no code of conduct?
Increasing numbers of tech conferences, both within Ruby and otherwise, are adopting codes of conduct. Codes of conduct protect attendees, particularly attendees from marginalized groups, and are an important part of making conferences safer. Codes of conduct also protect conferences and their organizers; having defined policies in place for what to do when harassment happens make the on-the-ground decisions easier to make and more legally defensible after the fact.
Ashe Dryden and the Ada Initiative, among others, have written extensively on why codes of conduct are important and on how to effectively write and implement them. There’s no excuse any more for not having one. Because of this, increasing numbers of people have pledged to not attend events without a code of conduct. Some companies have even decided to not sponsor events without formal codes of conduct.
This may partly explain your speaker-recruitment and sponsorship woes.
Why wasn’t your outreach to female speakers sufficient?
I’m glad that you read the advice that direct outreach to female speakers is often necessary to establish gender balance. However, you make it clear in your posts explaining the cancellation that you were primarily seeking female speakers to avoid “drama,” to not “get destroyed publicly,” to avoid “how crazy everybody gets over the gender issue in Ruby.” Nowhere did you say anything about doing it because it’s the right thing.
I have to wonder: did you read the widely available advice for how to do outreach to female speakers properly? I’m wondering this for two reasons: first, the lack of a code of conduct makes it sound like you weren’t interested in meeting female speakers’ likely needs; this may have contributed to their lack of interest. Second, the way you characterize your outreach makes it sound like you emailed people saying “Hey, I need a woman so the internet doesn’t fall on my head, and you’ll do. Wanna speak at my conf?” That’s not nearly as appealing a prospect as, say, “I really admired your work on [gem]; do you want to talk about it at WGR?”
Maybe I’m being too harsh on you with that assumption. But, still, I wonder why you only asked twelve women, given that you were trying to fill 24-36 speaker slots. (Were you assuming they’d all say yes?) I wonder when you started your outreach process, given that popular speakers are often booked months and months in advance. I wonder why you didn’t even let your CFP hit its deadline before snappishly assuming no women would apply in the last week.
Why did you blame women for WGR’s cancellation?
By your own account, the biggest reason you cancelled WGR was a lack of sponsorships. Why did you throw that frankly bizarre paragraph about lacking talk proposals from women? It’s a nasty little pit of nastiness, and frankly seems pitched to incite the “drama” you claimed to want to avoid.
Why did you want to blame women, instead of the people with the money?
I leave the answer to that question as an exercise for the reader.
Over at The Spandrel Shop, Prof-Like Substance writes about women’s experiences with harassment at academic conferences:
So dudes, pull this apart a little bit. First off, the frequency with which inappropriate advances occur is causing some women to avoid after hours social events. Not only does that have consequences, but that very fact in itself should bother you. Also consider that even consensual sexyfuntimes have very different career implications for men versus women. These communities are small and things get around. Finally, are you going to be That Guy who women are warned against being around alone? Do you want the dumb things you say when you’re out late to be the reason a woman leaves the field or is uncomfortable attending social events? Consider that maybe your work colleagues are not the best target audience for your affections.
This is ground we’ve covered before at Geek Feminism, of course. But I thought the comment thread on this post was, for once, worth reading. I especially liked the following comment from user EMoon, replying to a persistent concern troll asking for rules to tell “oblivious” men when to hit on women (so they don’t have to think about it for themselves):
You want a rule? Here’s the rule. Don’t do it. Never hit on women at a conference of any kind, or in a workplace of any kind, or at any function associated in any way with work, or at any function not associated in any way with work. Don’t make suggestive comments on their appearance, either to them or to other men with the intent that they will overhear. Don’t wink at them. Don’t stare at their bodies. Don’t stand too close. Don’t touch. Don’t pat them, hug them, drape an arm around their shoulders, or–should you necessarily be in a picture with them (an award ceremony or the like) decide to put an arm around them with that excuse. Don’t follow them around. Never hang around in the hotel hall outside their rooms, or outside the women’s toilet. Don’t do it. ANY of it. And don’t think it’s not noticed if you do.