[kde-community] FOSDEM Organisation

Valorie Zimmerman valorie.zimmerman at gmail.com
Sun Dec 7 00:22:18 GMT 2014

On Sat, Dec 6, 2014 at 8:36 AM, Carl Symons <carlsymons at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 12/05/2014 09:11 PM, Valorie Zimmerman wrote:
>> On Wed, Dec 3, 2014 at 5:21 PM, John Layt <jlayt at kde.org> wrote:
>>> Hi,
>>> Just a heads-up that I will not be attending FOSDEM next year and will
>>> not be assisting in any way with preparations for FOSDEM or providing
>>> any hardware. This is the result of the FOSDEM organisers refusing to
>>> institute a proper Code of Conduct for attendees or to take any other
>>> steps in addressing the dreadful gender ratio of speakers on their
>>> program or attending the conference itself. I have attempted to
>>> discuss these issues with them and found their attitude and beliefs
>>> completely unacceptable to me. As such I cannot give them any form of
>>> support, and sadly that means not helping the KDE community at this
>>> event anymore.
>>> John.
>> Ouch, I was not aware that FOSDEM has no CoC. That is really bad. Do
>> we have any connections to the organizers where we can make them aware
>> that this is *important*?
>> I for one would never want to attend a conf. with no CoC. There have
>> been far too many incidents of harassment, assault and other nastiness
>> to ignore. It is up to us individually and up to us as the KDE
>> community to stand up for minority communities, and extend the hand of
>> friendship to all.
>> I know FOSDEM is happening soon, but it is not too late to take some
>> action on our part, and not too late for them to add a link to a
>> decent CoC on their website, at the very least.
>> Thank you John for raising the issue on the list. I wish I had known
>> earlier.
>> Valorie
> I have been in contact with FOSDEM organizers. I worked closely with one of
> them earlier this year. She writes...
> "Not that I am personally against a code of coduct, but being a FOSDEM
> attendee for the last 3 years, I don't feel that FOSDEM is not
> welcoming to women, or that it discriminates in any way.
> I might be biased since I am one of FOSDEM organizers, but I truly
> think that FOSDEM is the foss event with less, if any, discrimination..."
> There's more about the situation that should be taken into account before
> there is a KDE UPRISING.

I wasn't asking for an uprising. It sounds like you have done what I
was calling for, which was talking with the organizers. I had lost
touch with Wynke; I'm glad you have contact.

> At least some of the FOSDEM organizers believe that it's important. They
> have a social conduct policy. It's published in the front of the program
> brochure. Apparently John doesn't think that it is proper (whatever that
> means):
> "Social conduct policy
>   The FOSDEM organisers were surprised to hear that
>   harassment is a common problem at open source conferences
>   around the world. While we have no evidence of antisocial
>   behaviour ever having been a problem at FOSDEM, we would
>   like to remind everyone that harassment of any kind will
>   not be tolerated.  Please report any concerns to a FOSDEM
>   staff member (yellow shirts), or contact our coordinator
>   Wynke on (telephone number)"
> from the 2014 conference in plain view
> (https://archive.fosdem.org/2014/assets/booklet-a1fec82960ed17ed7974bc2e9951dfc898c83318f8634f7ee046d952ada8ecb7.pdf)
> Some policies spell out detailed definitions of harassment and harassing
> behaviors, discussions of social structures of domination. How much effect
> does that detail and philosophizing have? IMO not much. A Code of Conduct
> encyclopedia is not likely to change dominating, churlish, harassing
> mindsets.
> What makes a practical difference is that the FOSDEM social conduct policy
> is clearly, though generally stated, published and given to attendees.
> Further, it includes a complaint resolution structure.

This satisfies me, and I didn't know about it. Thank you for clarifying, Carl.

> I don't have enough information to address John's claims about the FOSDEM
> organizers refusing to address a lopsided gender ratio. Presumably someone
> who feels strongly about the issue could join the organizing team and do
> something about it.
> The quick, friendly response I got from my acquaintance and one other person
> on the FOSDEM organizing team was quite different than what John describes.
> Carl

Setting up and enforcing a CoC is one thing, and really the easy
thing. As Pau describes, addressing gender ratio is rather more
difficult. In my experience, they work together to make a better
experience for everyone. While being the unicorn (lone female) in a
male space can be enjoyable for some, most women find the stress too
much, and choose not to do the extra work. Which of course leaves the
few women attending feeling even more alone.

Until KDE, and until FOSS, and even until the tech industry as a whole
crack this problem, we'll have uneven progress. When we embrace
diversity, and hold out a welcoming hand to all, and not just a few,
we enrich our community.



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