YOW! Diversity Policy

Platitudes are cheap. We’ve all heard services say they’re committed to “diversity” and “tolerance” without ever getting specific, so here’s our stance on it:

We welcome you.

We welcome people of any gender identity or expression, race, ethnicity, size, nationality, sexual orientation, ability level, neurotype, religion, elder status, family structure, culture, subculture, political opinion, identity, and self-identification. We welcome activists, artists, bloggers, crafters, dilettantes, musicians, photographers, readers, writers, ordinary people, extraordinary people, and everyone in between. We welcome people who want to change the world, people who want to keep in touch with friends, people who want to make great art, and people who just need a break after work. We welcome fans, geeks, and nerds.  We welcome you no matter if the Internet was a household word by the time you started secondary school or whether you were already retired by the time the World Wide Web was invented.

We welcome you. You may wear a baby sling, hijab, a kippah, leather, piercings, a pentacle, a political badge, a rainbow, a rosary, tattoos, or something we can only dream of. You may carry a guitar or knitting needles or a sketchbook. Conservative or liberal, libertarian or socialist — we believe it’s possible for people of all viewpoints and persuasions to come together and learn from each other. We believe in the broad spectrum of individual and collective experience and in the inherent dignity of all people. We believe that amazing things come when people from different worlds and world-views approach each other to create a conversation.

We get excited about creativity — from pro to amateur, from novels to haiku, from the photographer who’s been doing this for decades to the person who just picked up a sketchbook last week. We support maximum freedom of creative expression, within the few restrictions we need to keep the service viable for other users. We’re serious about knowing and protecting your rights when it comes to free expression and privacy. We will never put a limit on your creativity just because it makes someone uncomfortable — even if that someone is us.

We think accessibility for people with disabilities is a priority, not an afterthought. We think neurodiversity is a feature, not a bug. We believe in being inclusive, welcoming, and supportive of anyone who comes to us with good faith and the desire to build a community.

We have enough experience to know that we won’t get any of this perfect on the first try. But we have enough hope, energy, and idealism to want to learn things we don’t know now. We may not be able to satisfy everyone, but we can certainly work to avoid offending anyone. And we promise that if we get it wrong, we’ll listen carefully and respectfully to you when you point it out to us, and we’ll do our best to make good on our mistakes.

We think our technical and business experience is important, but we think our community experience is more important. We know what goes wrong when companies say one thing and do another, or when they refuse to say anything at all. We believe that keeping our operations transparent is just as important as keeping our servers stable.

We use the service we’re selling, and we built it because we wanted it ourselves. We won’t treat people as second-class undesirables because they’re non-mainstream or might frighten advertisers. We don’t have advertisers to frighten. To us, you’re not eyeballs. You’re not page views. You’re not demographic groups. You’re people.

Come dream with us.

YOW! Anti Harassment Policy

YOW! is dedicated to providing a harassment-free conference experience for everyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, or religion. We do not tolerate harassment of conference participants in any form. Sexual language and imagery is not appropriate for any conference venue, including talks. Conference participants violating these rules may be sanctioned or expelled from the conference without a refund at the discretion of the conference organizers.

Any form of written, social media, or verbal communication that can be offensive or harassing to any attendee, speaker or staff is not allowed at YOW!. Please inform a YOW! staff member if you feel a violation has taken place and the conference leadership team will address the situation.

Harassment includes offensive verbal comments related to gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, religion; sexual images in public spaces; deliberate intimidation; stalking; following; harassing photography or recording; sustained disruption of talks or other events; inappropriate physical contact; and unwelcome sexual attention. Participants asked to stop any harassing behavior are expected to comply immediately.

Exhibitors in the expo hall, sponsor or vendor booths, or similar activities are also subject to the anti-harassment policy. In particular, exhibitors should not use sexualized images, activities, or other material. Booth staff (including volunteers) should not use sexualized clothing/uniforms/costumes, or otherwise create a sexualized environment.

If a participant engages in harassing behavior, the conference organizers may take any action they deem appropriate, including warning the offender or expulsion from the conference with no refund. If you are being harassed, notice that someone else is being harassed, or have any other concerns, please contact a member of conference staff immediately. Conference staff can be identified by t-shirts and special badges.

Conference staff will be happy to help participants contact hotel/venue security or local law enforcement, provide escorts, or otherwise assist those experiencing harassment to feel safe for the duration of the conference. We value your attendance.

We expect participants to follow these rules at all conference venues and conference-related social events.

Creative Commons License


These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License
Diversity Policy © 2009-2013 Dreamwidth Studios, LLC.
Anti Harrassment Policy: http://2012.jsconf.us/#/about & The Ada Initiative
(Please help by translating or improving: http://github.com/leftlogic/confcodeofconduct.com)

QUESTIONS ABOUT DIVERSITY @ YOW! EVENTS

Why aren’t there more female speakers at YOW! Conferences?
The YOW! International Program Committee advocates for increased female participation and makes a concerted effort to invite top female international experts to speak at YOW!/GOTO conferences. Unfortunately, female software experts, especially in many topic areas, are in short supply.

Additionally, some who are interested in speaking simply cannot take 2 weeks out of their schedule (for business or personal reasons) to travel to Australia for the YOW! conferences.

Our female Program Committee members and speakers have strongly recommended against the use of a quota as a means for increasing participation.

Why are your speaker photos in black and white?
The photos we receive from speakers vary considerably in terms of quality, lighting, colour and backgrounds. In order to overcome these variations, we decided to make the photos all black and white.

What do you do to encourage diversity?
We undertake a number of activities to make all people feel welcome at our Conferences like:

  • Student Volunteers – Each year we have 60+ student volunteers across our cities from local universities who in return for a few hours of conference assistance get to attend both the conferences as well as workshops. As part of the program, we encourage all to participate and propose talks.
  • Clothing – our conference shirts are available in cuts to suit both men and women in a wide range of sizes
  • Dietary needs – we cater for a range of dietary requirements at our Conferences and Workshops
  • Opening Address sets tone for event – in the opening address at each YOW! Conference, Dave Thomas encourages respect and diversity towards other attendees and speakers
  • Speaker Suggestions – anyone can recommend a speaker for consideration by the international Program Committee and people can nominate themselves as potential speakers. Click here to read more about our selection process.

If you have suggestions on what else we could be doing to be more inclusive then we welcome any ideas and advice you may have. Click here to email us

What does YOW! do to encourage female participation?
Encouraging more women in ICT is something that we are passionate about at YOW!. The following are some of the things we are and have been doing:

  • Female Focused Events – We have, where possible, worked with Australian user groups such as Girl Geek Dinners and Lambda Ladies. 
  • Female Speaker Exchange – YOW! and GOTO Conferences have been working on a program to support a female speaker exchange between Australia and Denmark which would include speaker training and a slot at YOW! and GOTO 2014 respectively. The concern of our female Program Committee members is that the speaker must be good or else it looks like a quota.
  • Alliances – We have been working with a number of our sponsors and user groups to encourage new speakers, provide personal mentoring and support and encourage female participation. We also have close relationships with NICTA and QUT who both have active programs to encourage more females to enter Computer Science and Information Technology.
  • Support – We have supported local events such as Rails Girls and Brisbane Coderdojo for students.
  • Women in Tech Competition - We run an annual competition to encourage more female developers to become speakers.  Those shortlisted as part of the competition are invited to attend a full day speaker training workshop run by Damien Conway and the opportunity to showcase their talents by speaking at a YOW! event.  More details available here.

Although we recognise that increasing female participation in ICT is a broader issue affecting the future of the industry as is the declining numbers of total students studying ICT at universities, we welcome suggestions on what else we can do to encourage more participation. Contact us here if you have any ideas you’d like to share.