We include several guidelines that make women and all attendeees feel more welcome that go beyond a bare-bones anti-harassment policy. One example is a set of cards handed out at unconference sessions that help make discussion much more fun and interesting. Each card spells out a different useful role to keep the meeting moving: a gatekeeper (someone who makes sure everyone gets a chance to speak), a timekeeper, a leader/facilitator who keeps the meeting on track, and a note taker. Print out the cards and put one set in each unconference session and ask people to pick a role. This makes discussion way more interesting for everyone. We had a great feedback on how this improved discussion at AdaCamp DC!
Another example is that we suggest having a photography policy that gives people a clear visual signal – such as different colored badge lanyards – for whether they want to be photographed. Photos and videos of women are often taken without consent or commented on negatively; having control over how their images are used makes women more comfortable and confident at conferences. Some women don’t attend conferences at all that don’t have photography policies. (The recent controversy over images of non-consenting women posted on Reddit is just one example of why women might avoid having their pictures taken.)
If you find this useful, or want to support further work like this, please consider donating to the Ada Initiative before October 31, 2012:
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